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ACLU responds to MSP report

Michigan State Police arm badge
Michigan State Police

The American Civil Liberties Union is responding to a recent independent report that says traffic stops conducted by the Michigan State Police are racially disproportionate, but not due to discriminatory bias

“I believe that it is an excellent report and provides an opportunity for MSP to address very directly many of the policies, practices and the culture that accounts for the problems that we’ve identified in the past.”

In 2019, Staff Attorney for the ACLU’s Racial Justice Project Mark Fancher represented a Black couple who sued state police after they were searched and detained for almost 90 minutes, but not ticketed, on suspicion of running a red light. Fancher says the report sheds light on what he believes is a bias held by state police during these stops.

“It is more likely that they are going to continue to search and search and look and interrogate until they find what they believe has to be some evidence of some crime because all people of color commit crimes, according to the stereotypes.”

The report states that minority motorists are disproportionately stopped by MSP officers due to a “informal quota system,” a policy allowing troopers to decide where they patrol. The report found that troopers tend to patrol urban areas, increasing stops in order to make entries into their daily logs every 20 to 30 minutes. Failure to do so “could affect their employee evaluations. As urban areas are more likely to contain non-White residents, this may inadvertently lead to disparate stops.”

Fancher says he believes one way to combat such disparities is by having more diversification within the agency.

“The culture of us against them, entering communities of color as though they’re an occupying force and that kind of thing, that’s all the product of an insular culture, and we think that that can be broken up only if there are different kinds of people who are in these roles.”

Dave joined WGVU Public Media in November of 2023 after eighteen years as a Michigan Association of Broadcasters Emmy-nominated photojournalist and editor at Grand Rapids' WOOD TV8 and three years at WEYI TV25 in Flint, Michigan. As a General Assignment Reporter, Dave covers daily news and community events all over West Michigan.
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