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Grand Rapids Police twice as likely to pull over African-American drivers, study finds

Daniel Boothe

Results from a recent study found that Grand Rapids Police are twice as likely to pull over African-American motorists than they are non-black motorists. 

“We are here to share the results of our race base study that looked at traffic stops conducted by the Grand Rapids Police Department," Grand Rapids City Manager Greg Sundstrom said at one of five town halls the city hosted. "Unfortunately, I have to share with you this evening, the results are far inferior to what we had hoped. The study shows that our police department, stops black motorists more than they do non-black motorists.”

Black motorists were also more likely to be searched by police, yet were no more likely to be carrying contraband such as guns or illegal drugs than non-black motorists.

“I want you to know that the city of Grand Rapids accepts all of these findings, we do not debate a single one, and we accept them 100 percent. At the end of the report there are a series of recommendations made by the consultant, we accept every one of those recommendations, in fact, that is the beginning of our path forward,” Sundstrom said.

Those 12 recommendations, made by Lamberth Consulting who conducted the study, include a comprehensive review of the Grand Rapids Police Department’s policies and procedures. While Police Chief David Rahinsky said the Department accepts the results of the study, its findings do not reflect the character of the police officers he works with.

“I sincerely believe there is not a one who puts on the uniform that comes to work with the intent of delivering anything other than fair and equitable treatment of everyone they deal with. Now unfortunately as we now have data to show, at least as it reflects traffic stops, that is not the outcome,” Rahinsky said.

While Grand Rapids Police have made an effort to address transparency recently through implicit bias training and equipping every officer with a body camera, the study’s results are another embarrassment for the department this month. Last week a number of people showed up to the City Commissioners meeting to express their anger over police officers detaining five African American youths at gunpoint before releasing them without charges.

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