Michigan State Police pledge change after study finds racial disparities in traffic stops
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - Officials with the Michigan State Police are pledging to make changes after a study found that Black drivers were stopped more often than white drivers in 2020.
MSP is partnering with the Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice to address the issue.
People of color are being pulled over more than white drivers. The study found that Black drivers were about 80% more likely to be stopped by Michigan State Police than would be expected, based on Black representation in the population.
Drivers in Mid-Michigan said they’ve experienced this first-hand.
“I’ve been pulled over dozens of times, my sons, our family we’ve been pulled over, gosh, countless times,” said Samuel Hosey. “I’m not kidding.”
Through MSP’s partnership with MSU to address the racial disparities, they hope to make systemic changes.
“We’re doing a self check,” said Brian Oleksyk, with MSP. “This is something that we can improve on.”
The department laid out a five-point plan they said would help address the disparities. The plan includes hiring an outside firm, launching an effort to better communicate with communities of color, improve data availability, creating a training bureau and issuing police-worn body cameras for enforcement contact with the public.
So far, they have about 250 troopers with body cameras, but they plan to distribute 1,600 soon.
Community members said it’s a step toward holding everybody accountable.
“You hear stories of, ‘Well, who are you going to believe? A distinguished officer or this person over here?’” Hosey said. “And so this technology kind of takes that out of the equation.”
“It’s a win-win situation for the trooper as well as the community members we encounter with and serve,” Oleksyk said. “It’s going assist us and them.”
Hosey lives in East Lansing. He said the five-point plan is an important step toward regulating disparities, but it won’t solve every issue.
“I think it makes sense and I think it will help. Will it solve the issue? No. I think it was Martin Luther King Jr., ironically, who said that you can’t legislate morality but you can regulate it,” Hosey said. “I think this is an attempt to regulate some of the behaviors that this research and data has shown to be the case.”
He added that he believes this is an issue that everyone should be aware of.
“While somebody themselves may not have experienced this type of treatment or behavior from law enforcement, I promise you it’s real and it’s been happening for a long time,” Hosey said.
A full look of the MSP’s five-point plan can be found here.
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