GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two unions representing Grand Rapids police officers say a recent traffic stop study that found black and Hispanic drivers were pulled over at a higher rate than their white counterparts doesn’t show the whole picture.
“This isn’t us versus them, it’s we, and we need to continue to foster that relationship and build it,” said Mike Maycroft, the president of the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association.
Monday, representatives from the GRPOA and the Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association shared what they said was an unsolicited review of the original report, which found flaws in the data – including the way in which the data was collected and who gathered the data.
The consulting firm owned by former Grand Rapids Police Chief Harry Dolan conducted the analysis unsolicited.
Dr. Richard Johnson, who works for that firm, found that the areas where the traffic stops occurred in places with a high volume of police calls. The analysis found that likely means they are high-crime areas and the stops needed a better benchmark to measure the racial proportions of crime involvement.
Monday, the union presidents stressed they are not denying the original report, but that there needs to be a fuller understanding of the facts.
“The men and woman of this department are just getting beat up,” Maycroft added.
The unions said there are issues between police and the community they’re working to improve, but they said reports like this hinder that progress when not put into perspective.
“We all have a common goal in mind and that’s what we need to do is reach that common goal. But at the same time, we have to also say you’ve got to quit blaming the police department for all of society’s problems too. We know that there are problems, but you are asking a whole lot from the police officers nowadays,” Maycroft said. “So just slow it down, let us communicate, let us work with our neighborhoods in our community and we’re going to be the first ones to do that.”
The city also responded Monday.
“The Lambert Report was not an indictment of a police officers. It was an indictment of our process,” said Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom.
Sundstrom said he will look at the critiques, but still stands behind the initial study.