Records: Ferndale police ticket black drivers at alarming rate; ACLU calls for probe

ACLU of Michigan on Woodward_9740

Less than 10% of Ferndale’s population is black.

Yet 60% of motorists ticketed by Ferndale cops between Jan. 1, 2013 and May 15, 2014 were black, the ACLU found after reviewing public records.

In a letter to Ferndale police Tuesday, the ACLU of Michigan urged the city to hire an independent firm to investigate why a disproportionate number of black motorists are being pulled over. The ACLU said it had been receiving numerous complaints of racial profiling in Ferndale.

“There is no place for racial profiling in law enforcement,” said Mark Fancher, staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan’s Racial Justice Project. “It’s time for Ferndale to seek outside help on this issue and, if warranted, implement reforms. The public cannot have confidence in the police unless they know that law-enforcement decisions are fair and unbiased.”

The ACLU wants an independent firm to conduct an “in-depth statistical study and evaluation of the department’s police practices.”

“The Ferndale Police Department takes these allegations very seriously,” Ferndale Police Chief Timothy Collins said in a press release. “We strongly believer that our department does not racially profile.”

He added: “We are disappointed that the ACLU drew their own conclusions from the raw data without contacting or requesting further input from the Ferndale Police Department.”

Police did not dispute the numbers or explain why a disproportionate number of black motorists were ticketed.

Some of the findings were particularly troubling. One officer, for example, issued 4,189 citations – 66% of them going to black drivers.
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“Racial profiling contradicts this country’s most fundamental principles and ideals,” the ACLU of Michigan wrote in its letter. “Every person should be able to live without the fear or experience of being singled out by law enforcement and treated differently because of their color. Racial profiling also places society at greater risk of crime because police are less focused on the conduct of those who break laws, and they are more focused on law abiding citizens who happen to be people of color. In addition, effective law enforcement requires a cooperative relationship between the police and the community.”

We are awaiting a response from Ferndale.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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