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Independent study finds Public Safety generally guilty of racial profiling


KALAMAZOO (WKZO) -- African-American drivers in Kalamazoo are more than twice as likely to get pulled over by a public safety officer than white drivers.

If you are black, you are also more likely to be asked to step out of your car and have it searched, but you are a little less likely to have contraband than whites when they have their cars searched.

Those are the findings of a year long racial profiling study commissioned by the Department and reported for the first time last night.

Some city commissioners seemed surprised by the findings, but for Stephanie Moore and Mayor Bobby Hopewell, who are both African American, it was no surprise at all.

Hopewell also said it was unacceptable.

Chief Jeff Hadley says they can take some immediate steps but changing the cultural racism in the department could take some time, maybe years.

Consultant Dr. John Lamberth says if the number had been between 1 and 1.5 then there wouldn’t be a problem, but Kalamazoo’s average was that blacks were 2.3 times more likely to get pulled over, and the numbers were even higher at 5 locations around the city. 

Dr. Lamberth says they took data from a dozen identified locations and compared the data.

Chief Jeff Hadley says they will address it, but they may need outside help.

He says if there was an obvious or easy fix, they would have done it already. The study found no indication that Hispanics were pulled over more often.