City Manager: Grand Rapids Police stopped more black motorists at traffic stops

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - City Manager Greg Sundstrom says that Grand Rapids Police stop more black motorists at traffic stops and that is troubling and disappointing.

Sundstrom made his comments Tuesday afternoon ahead of five town hall meetings starting tonight in the community.

"Findings from the Traffic Stop Study are very troubling," Sundstrom said in a press statement. "The City does not shy away from these disappointing findings. We own this."

The study was commissioned as one of 12 recommendations on improving police and community relations and covered a three-year period before the enactment of the recommendations in January of 2015.  A previous study done in 2004 showed that there was not a bias.

The consultant concluded that black motorists are 1.85 times more likely to be stopped in Grand Rapids than white motorists.  Hispanic drivers also experienced disparities while driving in some areas of Grand Rapids.

The data also showed that black motorists were searched more than non-black motorists, but were no more likely to be carrying contraband than non-black motorists.  Hispanic motorists who were searched were carrying contraband at an even lower rate than black motorists.

The study examined 20 intersections in the city of Grand Rapids from 2013 through 2015. The race and ethnicity of the drivers at those locations was surveyed on randomly selected days and times. Lamberth Consulting, the company doing the research, compared the proportion of minority stops to minority traffic.

The consultant also offered 12 recommendations for GRPD to eliminate disparities in traffic stops. Among the recommendations is further evaluating the data, training for officers and re-evaluating staff reward and recognition programs.

Residents are encouraged to attend one of the meetings to hear directly from the consulting firm that collected the data.  To see the complete report, see the city's website here.

The meetings are:

Tuesday, April 18

5:30pm – LINC UP Gallery at 1167 Madison Ave. SE
7:30pm – The Edge Urban Fellowship at 735 Ritzema Ct. SW
Wednesday, April 19

4:00pm – Michigan First Credit Union at 1815 Breton Dr. SE
5:30pm – Rockford Construction at 601 First St. SW
7:30pm – GRPS University at 1400 Fuller Ave. NE


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  • Old Bob

    When one drives a car that belongs in the junk yard around town in the middle of the night the changes of being stopped by the police are grater then average. So what, find a job sleep nights, get a better car, stop relaying on welfare.

  • Old Bob

    Does the study show that Black’s make up about 13% of the general population, while making up about 37% of the prison population? That’ three times more likely to be criminals

  • GAFJ

    Frankly I don’t believe it for second. If true, its not based on race.
    No one cares about race, except the activist racists.

  • GAFJ

    Want to see some racism in action ?
    Take a walk down MLK drive or Rosa Parks after dark.
    Then tell me about racism.

    No one cares about race or the color of a persons skin. no one except those claim to be victims of racism.
    All my life ( and i’m old) we all ( the different races ) grew up together, hung out together, eat dinner at each others homes, worked on our cars, went fishing and every other thing friends do.
    I’m tire of the race baiters making up BS and hate.
    We are all the same. get over it

  • steve thomas

    I wasn’t aware that the police took note of the race of every driver that they stop. And, although it’s been many years since I received a ticket, I don’t remember that race was ever indicated on the ticket.

  • Old Bob

    I am all for equal treatment. I don’t want to see anyone decimated against. We all should be treated equally.

    That being said. When someone plays the BLACK card, they are not asking to be treated equally. They are asking for special treatment because they are black. They want society to give them special treatment. To look the other way when they brake the law.

  • Old Bob's mom can't count

    How in the world can more black people be on welfare than white people? Simple. They can’t. Why? It doesn’t take a genius for you to look at the population and percentage of Americans that are black to figure that out. Hahahahaha. Wait… I guess it does.

    • Old Bob

      There is dumb and there is dumber, which are you. It’s no wonder black people feel they are not treated fairly.
      The US Government record show a striking 82 percent of black households with children receive welfare–double the white rate.

  • Michael

    Were they valid traffic stops? I mean if the motorist was breaking the law then who cares what color the driver is. Unless you are prepared to tell the officers to stop enforcing the law then there’s really nothing to discuss. I mean do you really NOT stop a black person that’s breaking the law because it’s a white persons turn in your 1-1 ratio requirement?

    What a horrible place to work. I feel sorry for the officers working for that spineless group of people trying to be politically correct.

  • James Walker

    With malice aforethought, Grand Rapids sets most main road posted speed limits to reduce safety and illegally and arbitrarily define 90+% of the drivers as violators. This allows police to illegally profile and stop almost anyone they want to stop, since 90+% of the safe drivers are improperly defined as violators. Almost all of these artificially-low posted limits have been illegal since PA 85 of 2006 took effect on 11/9/06, but the local courts refuse to rule according to state law. The local courts support the illegally posted artificially low limits in order to keep the flow of illegally collected speeding fines flowing from locations where the posted limits are illegal and unenforceable under state law.

    Grand Rapids is a major offender in flagrantly defying state laws, and that allows illegal profiling.

    James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

    • Michael

      Read 257.627 again. It establishes prima facie speed limits and doesn’t require any sort of traffic study to do so. Sue the city if you think you are right.

      If you think nobody has brought up similar mis-readings of PA85 in the last 10 years you are wrong.

      • James Walker

        I have read 257.627 and all of its changes since the late 1990s. The NMA helped to craft PA85 of 2006. Main streets in GR are almost all posted illegally low. Only the refusal of District Court judges to follow the law keeps the illegally low limits in place to keep the lucrative speed traps producing revenue from mostly safe drivers. The newly passed changes to our speed limit laws effective in January of 2017 which the NMA also helped to craft will make it easier to shut down many GR outrageous speed traps which arbitrarily define an average of 97% of the drivers as violators.

        James C. Walker, National Motorists Association

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