Showing posts with label ACLU. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ACLU. Show all posts

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Michigan State Police releases independent report on racial bias, ACLU calls it ‘concerning’


The Michigan State Police (MSP) has released an independent report centered on the issue of whether it has carried out racially discriminatory policing practices.

In a news release, MSP said that “racial disparities observed in the traffic enforcement activities of Michigan State Police troopers do not appear to be the result of widespread discriminatory policing practices.” 

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan has argued that African Americans have been stopped disproportionately by state troopers. The group pushed for the external review.

The 18-month independent evaluation report conducted by the CNA Corp. was released in December. It came after MSP announced in January 2022 a five-point plan to address racial disparities in its traffic stops

“As a law enforcement agency, we are committed to fair and equitable policing,” stated Col. James Grady, MSP director, who is African American. “Although previous research conducted by the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University has identified the presence of racial and ethnic disparities in MSP traffic stops, the reasons for such disparities remain unknown.

“Discriminatory behavior is not an acceptable practice within this agency and anyone engaging in it will be addressed through training, discipline or termination, dependent on the circumstances of the incident. Today, as always, we reaffirm our commitment to the highest standards of anti-discrimination education and training and always look to serve Michigan to the best of our ability.” 

To assess the department’s traffic enforcement policies and programs, CNA studied document reviews, targeted interviews, focus groups, ride-alongs and quantitative data analysis. MSP commissioned as part of its five-point plan announced in January 2022 to address racial disparities in its traffic stops. 

Mark Fancher, staff attorney for the Racial Justice Project of the ACLU of Michigan, told the Advance that MSP has some “cultural, systemic features of the agency that lead to discriminatory outcomes.” 

“We find the conclusions very concerning, if not alarming,” he said. 

However, Fancher did point out the ACLU was “pleased” that MSP agreed to have the independent review carried out. 

“The report validates many of the conclusions that we reached on our own, and identifies some specific problems that make it possible for MSP to try and address them in an effective way,” Fancher added. 

The report includes 54 findings and associated recommendations. Among them emphasize policies and programs that require greater attention and improvement.

Key findings of the independent evaluation: 

  • MSP has a defined, comprehensive hiring process for applicants. 
  • MSP has consistently emphasized a written commitment to recruiting a diverse workforce in its strategic plans and recruiting strategy, but the department can improve on its followthrough and accountability for such commitments. 
  • As part of recruit training, MSP provides eight hours of implicit bias training, six hours of ethics training, and 15 hours of a cultural diversity speaker series. 
  • Disparities exist in graduation and attrition rates by demographics. 
  • MSP has made tangible efforts to institute recruiting and hiring practices that reduce barriers to applying for the trooper position.
  • MSP has several policies that provide guidance to troopers to ensure constitutional and bias-free policing. 
  • MSP’s policies on traffic enforcement do not sufficiently recognize the community being served nor provide sufficient guidance on the use of discretion. 
  • MSP has recently delivered two trainings on bias and policing, one that was not well received and a more recent one that was well received. 
  • MSP does not provide sufficient training on the use of discretion, particularly with the concept of “going beyond the stop.” 
  • Supervisors do not sufficiently manage where and how troopers patrol, leading to disproportionate “congregation in high-population areas with greater minority populations.” 
  • MSP now takes a more systematic approach to provide training and address identified gaps. 

On Friday, MSP issued a statement that the “employee-led African American Employee Resource Group (AAERG), one of the department’s commitments to diversity” that has been highlighted in a new video series celebrating Black History Month.

“Being part of and leading the AAERG is a source of gratitude for me,” said Sgt. DiJon Ware, AAERG co-chair. “It not only instills a sense of belonging but also nurtures inclusivity, fosters a supportive community and encourages diverse perspectives, thereby enriching the workplace culture. Over the past year, we’ve educated both our members and allies about African American culture and we’ve proactively forged connections within our communities through various outreach events across the state.”

This article originally appeared in Michigan Advance on February 21st, 2021. 

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Monday, June 27, 2022

In 'Dangerous Decision,' Supreme Court Guts Protection of Miranda Rights


Legals experts warned law enforcement agencies will have "zero incentive" to ensure that a person being arrested is read their Miranda rights after the U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday handed down a ruling the ACLU characterized as a "dangerous" assault on long-established protections.

"The warnings mandated by the Supreme Court in Miranda have been part of the fabric of law enforcement interactions with the public for more than 60 years."

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Biden picks Kamala Harris - can she be the difference the Democrats need to win in November?

words by Charles Brooks

After nearly 5 months of waiting, the suspense is finally over. On August 11th, Democratic Party nominee Joe Biden made history naming Kamala Harris, former 2020 presidential candidate and current US Senator (D-CA), as his Vice-President. 

The announcement unleashed a level of excitement and enthusiasm unseen since Barack Obama seized the White House back in 2008.  But in less than a week, Ms. Harris already came under attack as Trump’s team resurrected the racist conspiracy “birther” question around her eligibility for the VP post while social and mainstream media interrogates her racial identity and political ambition while publishing racist cartoon images and memes. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

The Blackboard Weekly Report - 4/21/14

  • Zimbabwe celebrated the 34th anniversary of their independence. See here for the press statement released by Secretary of State John Kerry and a brief summary of their history here from the Government of Zimbabwe.  
  • Professor Hilary Beckles, Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission, is urging young people across the Caribbean to play a role in their reparation struggle. The Jamaican Observer reported Prof. Beckles comments during a lecture: "There are many people in the world who believe that all they have to do is sit quiet and allow the older leaders of this campaign to pass away," he said. "You are the descendants of those who have survived and that gives you, the younger generation, a special responsibility to honour this history."
 White House
  • President Obama: The President held a press conference last week, responding to questions about the Affordable Care Act and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine.   During the press conference, President Obama tells Democrats not to run from health care issue with 2014 mid-term elections approaching. “I think the Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the fact that millions of people (have insurance)…I don't think we should apologize for it. I don't think we should be defensive about it…” 
  • Affordable Care Act Update:  The White House announces 8 million have signed up for health insurance via the market exchanges.   
  • Ukraine Crisis Update:  The Guardian reports that US secretary of state John Kerry urged Russia on Monday to meet Ukraine halfway in trying to defuse the crisis. See coverage of the ongoing Ukraine crisis by CNN, The Guardian, and the BBC.
  • Justice Department:  Attorney General Holder announced the Justice Department’s initiative to reduce sentencing disparities for drug offenders in the federal prison system by expanding the criteria for clemency.  “The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness, and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety.  The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences.  
  • First Lady: The Washington Post reports that last Thursday, First Lady Michelle Obama  and entertainer Bow Wow joined 37 students from Chicago public high schools for a tour of Howard University.  But the First Lady’s scheduled graduation address in Kansas is causing a stir   - Parents and students alike have expressed anguish that the first lady’s speech and limited seating for families detract from a day that should center on the graduating students and their loved ones.
  • Restoring the right for convicted felons to vote appeared in Virginia and in Iowa. In Virginia, the Governor has signed an executive order enabling an easier process to gain voting rights; drug offenses will no longer be on the list of crimes that need a waiting period, and the waiting period for violent offenders will decrease from 5 years to 3 year.  
  • Meanwhile in Iowa, felons will continue to be disqualified despite a recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling, 5-1 that some felonies may not rise to the level of barring voting rights.
  • New York politico Basil Paterson passed away.  See obituary by Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein – the firm Mr. Paterson joined in the early 1980’s. See additional coverage in the New York Amsterdam News.  
  • The New York Police Department (NYPD) had dismantled the unit that spied on Muslim communities. The ACLU noted that NYPD spied on their places of worship, and businesses they frequent – based on nothing but their religious beliefs and associations. For additional information see the ACLU’s fact sheet and the Associated Press investigation into NYPD intelligence.