Last month, the Michigan State Police hired an auditing firm to conduct a “Traffic Enforcement Policy and Program Analysis” as part of a settlement with the ACLU of Michigan. According to the ACLU, MSP data showed that between 2017 and 2019, African Americans were stopped disproportionately by state troopers. The ACLU pushed for the external review as part of a lawsuit where their clients said they faced a 90-minute search of their car without probable cause.
Earlier this year, the MSP acknowledged racial and ethnic disparities in traffic stops conducted by state troopers in 2020, while pledging to identify and enact solutions. The ACLU hopes that the audit will help address whether the MSP racially profile drivers of color.
“One of the benefits of the settlement that we’ve reached with them is that we will be able to communicate [our] concerns to the researchers, as they look into specifically what’s causing these racial disparities.” Mark P. Fancher, ACLU of Michigan
Listen: Why the MSP and ACLU agreed to an investigation of traffic stop practices as part of a lawsuit settlement.
Mark P. Fancher is the staff attorney for the Racial Justice Project of the ACLU of Michigan. He says the data shows the racial disparities and is hopeful more research can reveal the cause.
“We were able to request additional records using Freedom of Information Act. And we did see racial trends,” says Fancher. “One of the benefits of the settlement that we’ve reached with them is that we will be able to communicate [our] concerns to the researchers, as they look into specifically what’s causing these racial disparities.”