Racially Disproportionate Traffic Stops in Ferndale

After receiving multiple complaints from African American motorists who felt that they had been the targets of racial profiling by police officers conducting traffic stops in Ferndale, the ACLU of Michigan requested traffic stop data from the Ferndale Police Department pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.

The documentation we received showed that black motorists are being issued traffic citations in numbers grossly disproportionate to their presence in the local population. Although blacks are less than 10 percent of the Ferndale population, African American motorists received 60 percent of traffic citations written during an 18-month period in 2013 and 2014.

Alarmed by these statistics, the ACLU wrote a letter to Ferndale’s chief of police in September 2014, asking that the department hire independent experts to investigate the racial disparities and recommend reforms. Although Ferndale’s police chief and city manager emphatically denied that their officers engage in racial profiling, they agreed to meet with the ACLU and consider a process for reviewing policies and practices. Unfortunately, it is unclear whether, or to what extent, the Ferndale police have committed to implementing reforms, and the most recent traffic stop data in Ferndale shows no significant changes.

(ACLU Attorneys Mark Fancher, Dan Korobkin and Michael J. Steinberg; Cooperating Attorneys Gillian Talwar and Lisa Schmidt.)

To view the full 2014-2015 Legal Docket, click here.