Ferndale Chief Responds to Report on Traffic Tickets and Race

Ferndale Chief Responds to Report on Traffic Tickets and Racekeith dalton ad

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Sept. 30, 2014)

After receiving complaints from multiple people who felt they may have been racially profiled, The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) researched the demographics of people issued traffic tickets in the City of Ferndale. What they found was that in cases where the race of the driver was known, about 60% of the time they were black.

The data looked at stops between Jan. 1, 2013 and May 15, 2014. There were 39,104 tickets issued. 14,416 were black. 9,571 were white. 140 were Asian, Hispanic or other. Race was categorized as unknown for the remaining 14,979.

ACLU Staff Attorney Mark P. Fancher of the Racial Justic Project, and Gillian Talwar, Chair of the Oakland robert wittenberg election 2014 adCounty Lawyers Committee sent a letter to Ferndale Police Chief Collins regarding “racial profiling concerns.”

“The documents you provided to us indicate that…black motorists were issued traffic citations at a rate grossly disproportionate to their presence in the population. Although blacks make up less than 10% of Ferndale’s population according to the 2010 census, they made up approximately 60% of the drivers who received traffic citations in Ferndale when the race of the driver was known…

“Given these start statistics and the racial demographics of the community, we believe there is good reason to investigate and determine the reason(s) for the racially skewed stops.”

The ACLU letter encouraged the Chief to consider having a consultant study the situation and make recommendations for reform.waterwork

Chief Collins responded with a press release stating “The Ferndale Police Department takes these allegations very seriously. We strongly believe that our department does not racially profile. Several months ago the ACLU contacted the Ferndale Police Department with a request for racial data in citywide stops. Our office readily supplied this information to the ACLU at no charge and without reservation. 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.”

While the population of Ferndale is only 10% black, the city borders Detroit which has about 83% of the population black.  Ferndale Schools also has a diverse mix of students who live in Oak Park, Royal Oak Township and Detroit.

The issue of race is not new for the Department. Recently former Mayor Craig Covey had a letter to the editor published in The Daily Tribune criticizing Ferndale Police for having a lack of diversity on staff. “Ferndale is a city that promotes, celebrates, and embraces diversity, and yet its police officers are still all white and mostly male,” Covey said. Recent buy-outs have left vacancies on the force, and Covey’s recommendation was to “follow other progressive cities and hire officers who will reflect the diversity of the people who live, shop and seed019_Cherie_Rolfedo business in Ferndale.”

Chief Collins did not respond to questions about the racial make-up of the department.

The Ferndale Police Department is also involved in a lawsuit with a former employee who claims he was mistreated and discriminated against because he is Jewish. More information can be found at http://www.theoaklandpress.com/general-news/20140110/former-ferndale-police-officer-sues-department-over-discrimination.

The Department has also taken a proactive approach in some areas of discrimination. In 2012 officers attended Transgender Day of Empowerment to connect with members of the transgender community and talk about their rights and the policies of the department. They have also worked closely with Ferndale Schools, partnering on a School Resource Officer and with Chief Collins volunteering countless hours with youth, particularly in the football program.

In spite of disagreeing with the ACLU’s conclusions, Chief Collins hopes to move forward on the issue. “We look forward to a more productive conversation and informed analysis of the data involving both the Ferndale Police Department and the ACLU, at their convenience,” he said in the press release.LangtonWebAd

For more information on the Ferndale Police Department visit https://www.ferndalepolice.org/.

For the ACLU letter to FPD, see http://www.aclumich.org/sites/default/files/2014_RacialProfilingFerndale_Letter.pdf.

For traffic citation data see http://www.aclumich.org/sites/default/files/2014_RacialProfilingFerndale_Report.pdf

For the ACLU press release see http://www.aclumich.org/issues/ferndale/2014-09/2016.

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