EAST LANSING, Mich. (WLNS)– Data from the East Lansing Police Department showed African-American residents in East Lansing were almost three times more likely to be pulled over by police than Caucasians.
Chris Root, the Vice-Chair of a study committee on an Independent Police Oversight Commission in East Lansing said racial bias issues in policing have been raised for years by the city’s Human Rights Commission, but until more recently there wasn’t data to gauge those concerns.
“The study committee is trying to provide for the city council some background about the sort of current state of policing in the city and the current state of oversight of policing. [We] wanted to try to get more information about the impact of policing on black people in East Lansing and so, we’ve been trying to dig into data,” Root said.
What they found, she said, is a very clear pattern of disproportionate policing against African Americans in arrests, stops, and use of force.
Over a three year period, Root said African Americans made up around 40 percent of total arrests and in a four year period, a higher number of black people experienced use of force than white people.
In the last four months of 2020 (Sept. – Dec.), 24 percent of people stopped by police were black.
That is significant considering the latest data from the census which shows African Americans make up less than 7 percent of the population, while Caucasians make up more than 75 percent.
“This is something we’ve been hearing from people who are affected by it. That matters. What we’ve found now is that we also have data. We also have numbers,” Root said.
“You can’t run away from issues like this, you can’t deny and try to you know, save face in situations that’s why we put the data out there,” said East Lansing Mayor Aaron Stephens.
He said the city is working to address it in every way that it can.
“That’s why we have the study committee, that’s why we’re going through our laws, that’s why we have our human rights commission working tirelessly to make these efforts a reality.”
He added that addressing these issues has been a big priority of his since he took office, but this data shows that there is still a lot more work to do.