(CBS DETROIT) - A newly released report shows racial disparities in traffic stops with Michigan State Police, now the department is taking action to try and figure out why this is happening.
"It's disturbing to us as I'm sure to other people, it's a 101 pages of statistics and things like that," said 1st Lt. Michael Shaw a Michigan State Police Public Informations Officer.
A study conducted by Michigan State University released Wednesday found that in 2020 across Michigan African Americans were significantly more likely to be involved in a traffic stop by MSP. Furthermore; Black and Hispanic drivers were more likely than white drivers to be searched and arrested following the stop.
"The fact that in 2021 you have to wait for a University to say throughout the entire state you have disproportionately impacted black people and that it to be presented as a surprise seems a little bit disingenuous," said Wayne County Director at Michigan Liberation Rai Lanier.
Lanier says her grassroots organization and several others has been on the ground sounding the alarm over these disparities for years. She's glad this is coming to light, but says much work needs to be done. MSP agrees.
"Put out a 5-point plan that we're going to use right now today to address these issues and as we go along to try to find what the actual root cause is of these disparities and what we as law enforcement can do to fix it," Shaw said.
The department's 5-point response plan includes:
- Hiring an independent consulting firm to review MSP policies with an eye toward making recommendations for systemic changes that will address racial disparities.
- Launching a statewide listening and engagement effort, in partnership with the Bridges to B.L.U.E. Citizen Advisory Council, in which MSP leadership will engage in open and honest conversation with leaders from communities of color, surfacing problems and finding solutions together.
- Making more data available to MSP troopers through a dashboard that will provide real-time traffic stop data so they can learn about and adjust their actions.
- Ramping up educational opportunities for troopers and recruits through the creation of the department's Professional Development Bureau. This new bureau will provide training and development for enforcement members on familiar topics, as well as on new and emerging topics including mental health, wellness, de-escalation, cultural competency, decision-making, implicit bias and communication skills.
- Issuing body worn cameras to all enforcement members who could have enforcement contact with Michigan residents and visitors.
Although; Lanier says a conversation needs to be had with the people most impacted by the disparities.
"That hasn't been talking about a lot that wasn't included in the study and directly impacted people in the community want to make sure their voices are not going to be left out," Lanier said.
The department has posted the executive summary and full report on its Transparency and Accountability webpage at www.michigan.gov/MSPtransparency, and it is available directly at https://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-1586_101168_109452---,00.html.
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