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Police, city leaders in Kzoo reacting after racial profiling study
KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Police and city leaders in Kalamazoo are reacting after a racial profiling study found local police are targeting black drivers in traffic stops.
A study by Lamberth Consulting found black drivers are about twice as likely to get pulled over in the city than white drivers.
In fact, it highlighted five intersections of particular concern in the city.
The study also says black drivers are searched and cuffed more often, though they're less likely to be found with contraband or even cited.
Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley says since taking over the department in 2008, he wanted this study done to assess the actions of his officers, and to build trust in the community regardless of the report's findings.
"We got to deal with the data, we said we are going to tell the truth, and that's what we are doing," said Chief Hadley.
Chief Hadley was passionate at his press conference Wednesday taking ownership of his officer's actions.
"Because I believe in my people, I do."
Chief Hadley tells us the study did not focus on individual officers or take their race into consideration because the outcome is about learning, not punishment.
We asked Lola Clark Atkinson with the NAACP of Kalamazoo her response to the findings.
"I'm surprised people are shocked, because it is something the black community has lived," said Clark Atkinson.
Now Chief Hadley says it's time to move forward. There will be an immediate review of policy and officers will undergo cultural competency training.
Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting tells us he's encouraged by Chief Hadley's plan.
"I think he is going to take the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety forward as a result of this, they are not shying away from the problem that this has uncovered," said Prosecutor Getting.
Prosecutor Getting also predicts the study could change the outcome of cases in the courtroom.
"It wouldn't surprise me if there is an effort to use this on behalf of defendants in certain cases," said Prosecutor Getting.
Next month, a massive transition will take place at KDPS, 54 officers will leave and some of those positions will be filled with younger recruits.
Chief Hadley says he's concerned new officers on the streets will suffer emotional backlash from citizens, now that the results of the study have been made public, but that now is the time for adjustment.
"Hopefully we evolve as humans, we are just evolving as an organization, and just some growing pains, it hurts, but we are going to be all right," said Chief Hadley.
Chief Hadley says KDPS will regularly report to the citizens of Kalamazoo on the progress of its cultural change initiative.
Another study will be done in 2015.