KDPS chief updates commissioners on racial profiling

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) – Kalamazoo’s top cop updated city commissioners Monday about his department’s response to a study of racial profiling by officers.

The study, commissioned by the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and released in September 2013, found that black drivers were more than twice as likely to be stopped by officers than non-black drivers. It also found they were more likely to be searched and handcuffed despite the fact that they were less likely to have contraband.

Inside woodtv.com: The 47-page racial profiling study (pdf)

Monday, KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley updated city commissioners on the changes his department has made in the wake of the study.

He said some officers at first wondered how to do their jobs and that he was confused, as well.  He said the number of tickets that were issued in the months following the report’s release dropped dramatically.

“Is it a trend that’s going to continue? I guess that remains to be seen, but even if so why does that make it a bad thing?” Hadley said.

He emphasized the department’s focus on community policing alongside things like giving out tickets.

“Good policing isn’t just arrests and citations. It is community engagement; getting that trust, getting to know the folks in your community,” Hadley said.

He said his officers now know exactly what they are supposed to do.

“I believe in our people and I think we’ll get the job done,” he said.

He said officers have been undergoing more training and that his officers should not be using so called “consent searches.” That’s where an officer asks a citizen if he can search that person without any specific reason to do so.

KDPS has also been choosing random service calls within the last month to determine how satisfied citizens are with officers and the department.

But though Hadley said “a lot of working has been done,” he also said “it’s a fluid process.”

He also pointed out dozens of officers will be retiring and 2016 will provide an opportunity to increase diversity among the ranks.

City commissioners seemed to like those ideas, but wanted concrete examples and a formalized plan.

“Is there really a concrete plan that’s in place that says … this is our priority and this is how we’re doing that?” Commissioner Stephanie Moore asked, referring to more diversity in hiring.

Moore in particular grilled Hadley over several different issues in the report, a “push back” Hadley said he appreciated.

Hadley said another study should be conducted in the next year to two to see if there has been any change. He said he wouldn’t want to do another one much sooner than that because he didn’t want to set the department up to fail. But he said there is not any comparable recent data to look at that would tell how the department is doing at this point.

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