Friday, September 4, 2020

Michigan State Police director says that increase in traffic stops involving Black drivers 'merits further review'

Posted By on Fri, Sep 4, 2020 at 12:17 PM

  • Roberto Galan / Shutterstock

Since 2017, there has been a sharp increase in traffic stops involving Black drivers in Michigan, new data shows.

As part of Michigan State Police's newly launched Transparency and Accountability website, the public now has streamlined access to information about MSP's training protocol, funding, and department strategies, as well as data relating to the department's recorded use of force cases and traffic stops by county and race. The site breaks down traffic stops performed by MSP officers between 2017-2019, organized by county and race of the person pulled over.

Since 2017, those traffic stops involving Black drivers has increased from 76,924 in 2017 to 84,283 as of last year. Hispanic and Latino drivers have also seen an increase, though only by about 1,000 during the two-year data span. Traffic stops involving white motorists, however, have decreased since 2017, from 328,268 stops to 300,895.

Oakland County saw a decrease in traffic stops among Black drivers, whereas Macomb, Livingston, and Kalamazoo counties reported an increase. In Genesee County, MSP reported 6,247 more stops in 2019 than in 2017.

click to enlarge Michigan State Police traffic stop data between 2017-2019. - MICHIGAN.GOV
  • Michigan State Police traffic stop data between 2017-2019.

MSP Director Col. Joe Gasper said on Tuesday that though he believes MSP members do not factor in race when performing their duties, the increase in stops involving Black motorists "merits further review to ensure that department policies and practices are not resulting in the disparate treatment of some motorists."

As a result, MSP will hire an independent third-party to conduct a thorough review of traffic stop data which, upon completion, will be made available to the public.

“The members of the Michigan State Police hold ourselves to the highest standards of professional conduct and we remain committed to performing our jobs with excellence, integrity, and courtesy, treating all people with dignity and respect,” Gasper said. “If we find we can improve upon our practices to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all people, you have my commitment that we will make the necessary changes.”

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