Today, two Grand Rapids Police Department representatives addressed a recent study that stated that black motorists were twice as likely to be pulled over in Grand Rapids.
In April, a study by Lamberth Consulting of the Grand Rapids Police Department titled “Grand Rapids Implicit Bias Training and Traffic Stop Analysis” was released.
The study report was released to police officers shortly before the report was released to the public.
“This didn’t give us a lot of time to react and absorb the information,” said Mike Maycroft, president of the Grand Rapids Police Command Officers Association. “We were kind of blindsided.”
The study reported that black motorists were twice as likely to be pulled over by Grand Rapids police officers. Hispanic motorists were also more likely to be pulled over than white motorist, but less likely than black motorists.
The report featured data that showed the rates of black and Hispanic traffic stops growing between 2004 to 2015.
Former GRPD chief, Harry Dolan, who is now the CEO of Dolan Consulting Group, saw flaws in the study. A critique of the study produced by Richard Johnson was recently released.
The critique stated that the data collectors that watched the streets for traffic stops, may have been bias against the GRPD.
According to the critique, members of the public who have previously attended meetings to accuse the department for mistreating African Americans were data collectors. Johnson attributed this information to a passage in the Lamberth study.
Johnson also pointed out that the data in the Lamberth study was collected without checks and balances. Johnson also surfaced many other problems found in the study like the public knowing of the observed locations.
“The rationale for GRPOA and the GRPCOA release is not a retort or denial to the original report,” Maycroft said. “But as a reminder to the city management, city commission and the public, that in a politically charged atmosphere as what we are experiencing right now, we as a community can’t afford to take an incomplete view point on important issues like this.”
The two associations want to encourage the residents of Grand Rapids to “slow it down.” Maycroft said that he wants people to review Dr. Johnson’s report to bring in a wider understanding what the true facts are.
“Both of our associations and memberships are eager and willing to create a better understanding of our work and challenges to the public,” Maycroft said.
Both associations are hoping to create more relaxed and open settings to share the GRPD stories and concerns rather than large public events. Maycroft worries that large events could possibly make the division between the GRPD and the public greater.
“I am thankful to the citizens of the Grand Rapid community and the majority support us,” said Andy Bingel, president of the Grand Rapids Police Officers Association. “But, I would like to call on the community leaders to help us build a bond with those who are less supportive. With their help, we can make Grand Rapids the model of police-community relations.”
Both representatives feel that many residents of Grand Rapids are fighting against them and aren’t willing to allow room for conversation.
“Let’s turn off the hate language and turn on the rational voices,” Maycroft said. “We as police officers will continue to answer every call, we hope our leader will answer ours.”