Study shows disparities in traffic stops


GRAND RAPIDS, MICH – Results of a Traffic Stop Data Analysis shows that Black motorists are twice as likely to be stopped by police within the City of Grand Rapids than non-Black drivers. Hispanic drivers also experienced disparities while driving in some areas of the community. White and women drivers, however, did not face disparate treatment.

Those results, as well as other data examining possible disparities and detailing recommendations, are part of a 100-page report submitted to the City by Lamberth Consulting. Grand Rapids officials requested the study last year as part of its 12-Point Plan to Strengthen Community and Police Relations, released in early 2015.

The report, available at, conducts analysis by comparing observational benchmarks to the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) traffic stop data. The study examined 20 intersections throughout the City during 2013, 2014 and 2015.

The consultant also compared current data with that collected during a similar study conducted in 2004. The race/ethnicity of drivers at those same locations was determined by surveying on randomly selected days and times. Lamberth Consulting compared the proportion of minority stops to minority traffic. In addition, the proportion of minority motorists searched was compared to the proportion of minority motorists stopped.

According to the report, Black motorists were searched far more than their presence in traffic among motorists stopped. Black motorists were also no more likely to be carrying contraband when searched than were non-Black motorists. Hispanic motorists were searched about the same rate they were stopped, and contraband was found at a somewhat lower rate than among White and Black motorists.

Lamberth offers 12 recommendations for eliminating disparities in the report. They are:

  1. Analyze GRPD’s stop and search data for 2016 traffic stops
  2. Publicize stop and search data over the next four years
  3. Begin a comprehensive review of policies and procedures
  4. Review data collection efforts to ensure recording of relevant data
  5. Evaluate training to ensure staff is trained in bias-free policing
  6. Assess staff reward and recognition and promotion programs
  7. Evaluate Field Training Officers to ensure correct training practices
  8. Evaluate Field Training Officers to ensure they are aware of the need to protect against bias based policing
  9. Assess and evaluate the GRPD’s early warning system to determine which officers may be stopping and/or searching minority motorists at a higher rate than their peers
  10. Continue to bring officers and the community together to discuss the report and community and police relations

11.GRPD should begin to survey the community on a regular basis to obtain citizen feedback

12.Within six months, report to the community on action taken as a result of the Traffic Stop Study

Grand Rapids Chief of Police David Rahinsky said he was very troubled by the results and that he saw this study as an important departmental assessment and a courageous next step to further improve his department and its bond with the community.

Los resultados de un Análisis de Datos de Parada de Tráfico muestran que los conductores negros son dos veces más propensos a ser detenidos por la policía dentro de la Ciudad de Grand Rapids que los conductores no-Negros. Los conductores hispanos también experimentaron disparidades mientras conducían en algunas áreas de la comunidad. Los conductores blancos y las mujeres, sin embargo, no se enfrentaron a un tratamiento dispar.

El jefe de la policía de Grand Rapids, David Rahinsky, dijo que estaba muy preocupado por los resultados y que consideraba que este estudio era una importante evaluación departamental y un paso coraje para mejorar aún más su departamento y su vínculo con la comunidad.