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State police report finds racial disparities in traffic stops

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Michigan State Police leaders are promising improvements after a study found a disproportionately high number of Black drivers are stopped by troopers.

The study by the Michigan State University School of Criminal Justice also found Black drivers were more likely to be searched and more likely to be arrested. The data comes from information on stops that was provided by troopers.

The next step is to delve deeper into the findings, said First Lieutenant Mike Shaw, Michigan State Police spokesperson.

“This report shows that there’s racial and ethnic disparities in our traffic stops,” he told Michigan Public Radio. “We need to find out why.”

Shaw says one of the next steps is to extensively track individual trooper behavior.

“That’s going to list every individual trooper’s activity real time,” he said. “That way they can look at what they’re doing out there on the road and also their supervisors, and see if there might be something there in their work pattern that might need to be changed.”

That includes issuing body cameras to all troopers. The department has also hired an outside consultant to review its policies. An advisory group will embark on a statewide listening tour for suggestions and feedback. The department also plans to create a professional development bureau for career-long training.

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