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Civil rights leaders in Kalamazoo meet Tuesday
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Kalamazoo-area civil rights leaders met Tuesday to talk about some of the challenges they're facing.
One of the issues they talked about was, naturally, the recent study that found racial profiling going on in the Kalamazoo Department of Public safety.
The report was released two weeks ago and found black drivers in Kalamazoo are two times more likely to be pulled over.
At Tuesday's forum, NAACP President Charles Warfield said he has received complaints about profiling for years, but now he's relieved the issue is in the open and can be fixed.
"Who wants to bring a business where you have a police force that isn't fair to its citizens," Warfield asked. "So it behooves everybody to clean up the mess so we can continue on having people who will come and bring jobs and opportunity."
It was just one of the issues that came up at the civil rights forum.
Michigan Department of Civil Rights Director Leslee Fritz, who investigates complaints, says it is a positive that the study, released by KDPS two weeks ago, will force a discussion.
"For any community, Kalamazoo included, the first step is to look at the issues you're facing in an open and honest way and put the facts on the table, then you can begin to deal with them in a way that's best," said Fritz.
KDPS Chief Jeff Hadley was also at the forum, and he has vowed to fix profiling, in part with new clear guidelines for officers.
"There's nothing more fundamental about what we do as a police officer, not just in Kalamazoo but nationally, than guaranteeing the civil rights of people we're sworn to protect, Hadley said. We have to remember that, have to reorient people sometimes to that construct."
And community leaders also praised Hadley and KDPS for being proactive and doing the study in the first place.