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MSP pledges change after research showed Black drivers are more likely to be stopped by state police

Posted at 7:11 AM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 07:11:08-05

OAK PARK, MI (WXYZ) — Michigan State Police are pledging change after an independent study conducted by researchers from Michigan State University showed racial disparities in traffic stops.

The research is based on data from 2020 and shows that Black drivers are getting pulled over more frequently than other drivers.

"The research team found racial and ethnic disparities in the frequency and outcomes of traffic stops conducted by MSP troopers," MSP Director Col. Joe Gasper said.

The report analyzed state police data from 2020 looking at traffic stops, searches, and arrests from across the state.

Researchers looked at the race of drivers, the regions, at-fault traffic data, and more to account for how likely certain groups are to commit traffic violations.

They also factored in time of day and when police might have known the race of a driver before pulling them over.

"We found that traffic stops conducted during the daylight were more likely to involve an African American driver than those conducted at night," the author of the report Dr. Scott Wolfe said. "Importantly, no such disparities were found for other racial or ethnic groups."

State police are promising to change and are introducing a five-point plan to mitigate the problem.

"On behalf of the entire department, I pledge immediate action to identify and enact solutions," Col. Joe Gasper said.

That plan includes hiring an independent consulting firm to review MSP policies, launching a statewide listening and engagement effort, making more data available to MSP troopers, equipping all troopers with body cameras by the end of the year, and adding cultural awareness training.

"They've exposed themselves to critical analysis, every police department does not do that I commend them for doing that," Detroit NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony said.

He says he's hopeful these changes will be followed through.

State police and researchers do caution that this report does not prove that troopers are intentionally targeting drivers by race, but simply that those racial disparities do exist.