"Racism is alive" -- the immediate response to a study showing Grand Rapids police officers stop more black and Hispanic drivers than others.
City officials announced the results of the Traffic Stop Data Analysis, done by Lamberth Consulting, during a conference Tuesday, April 18. The research is an update of a 2004 study that sought to determine whether minorities are pulled over more often than others.
The study shows large disparities between who actually is being stopped by police. The study collected data from traffic stops between 2013 and 2015. In 2015 black drivers were twice as likely to stopped by police compared to others. Black drivers were also more like to be searched. The study also notes that black drivers were not more likely to carry contraband when searched.
The study shows that Hispanic drivers were 1.3 times more likely to be stopped by GRPD compared to others. They were also over stopped at 5 different locations in Grand Rapids. The study took into account that some areas have more black and Hispanic residents.
Traffic stop data for 2016 has not been analyzed but city leaders say they plan on another study later this year. Leaders at the city and GRPD say they accept the results of the study and will make changes to improve.
"These disparities and how we police must end....this is contrary to the values held by this community," says Greg Sundstrom the City Manager.
"I don't think there is anyone in this department who is not concerned by this outcome, it's certainly not in our hearts to go out and police in a way that affects any segment of the population differently, but obviously that is the ultimate outcome and what we need to be concerned with now is changing that outcome," says GRPD Chief David Rahinsky.
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