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Interviews with news makers and discussion of topics important to Southwest Michigan. Subscribe to the podcast through Apple itunes and Google. Segments of interview are heard in WestSouthwest Brief during Morning Edition and All Things Considered

WSW: ACLU Attorney Says Kalamazoo "a Model" for Confronting Racial Profiling

Alex Schmidt
iStock Photo

ACLU Staff Attorney Mark Fancher says the Kalamazoo Public Safety Department demonstrated courage, professionalism and integrity when it released a study on racial profiling in 2013. 

The study found that black motorists were twice as likely as whites to be stopped by police in Kalamazoo. Fancher says making those findings public has made Kalamazoo a model of how a department should respond to accusations of racial profiling.

Fancher and Kalamazoo Public Safety Chief Jeff Hadley will be part of a panel discussion for a community forum on Race and Policing. It will be held on Thursday from 6:00 until 8:00 at the Douglass Community Association. It’s sponsored by the Southwest ACLU Lawyers Committee and Mothers of Hope.

How prevalent racial profiling is in Michigan depends on who you ask. Fancher says Police will tell you that their officers are trained not to profile people by race. But he says many people describe experiences where they have been profiled, in some cases routinely by police. Fancher says it’s hard to quantify racial profiling in way that’s persuasive to those who don’t believe it is happening. 

Interview with Mark Fancher - web version

Racial profiling is often the result of “implicit bias.” Fancher says that can happen when officers buy into stereotypes, but don’t racially profile in a conscious way. He says if a department works to train officers about those biases that can be corrected. Fancher says in some departments there is a culture that leads to racial profiling.

Fancher says the police have a tough job. But he says the law requires that they look for people whose conduct demonstrates that they are engaged in criminal activity, or they are about too. Fancher says that should be the reason that police stop a motorist, not because of race.

Gordon Evans became WMUK's Content Director in 2019 after more than 20 years as an anchor, host and reporter. A 1990 graduate of Michigan State, he began work at WMUK in 1996.
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