September 4, 2020
Michigan State Police (MSP) Director Col. Joe Gasper today announced the creation of www.michigan.gov/MSPtransparency, a new Transparency and Accountability webpage that provides the public with easy access to information about the administration and operation of the MSP. Information includes department policies, strategic plan, training requirements, recruiting and staffing numbers and use of force and traffic stop data, among other topics. Much of the information posted on the webpage was already publicly available, but the new webpage puts it all in one location for ease of access.
With the publication of this information, Gasper also announced the creation of a citizen advisory council that will assist department leadership by providing outside insight into MSP practices affecting the public. The Bridges to BLUE (Build.Listen.Unite.Engage) Citizen Advisory Council includes 10 citizen volunteers, representing various community stakeholders. They will be utilized for conducting research into best practices and for help in generating new ideas and solutions for improved community engagement.
“We know that accountability and transparency are necessary components for building community trust and support, which is the goal of this new webpage and the purpose for creating the Bridges to BLUE Citizen Advisory Council,” stated Gasper. “By sharing information about the operations of the department, both online and with the Bridges to BLUE Citizen Advisory Council, it is my hope that we’ll increase police-community relations through better understanding, develop improved policies and contribute to more informed discussions about police reform.”
Increasing Transparency and Accountability
In posting the department’s statewide traffic stop data on the new Transparency and Accountability webpage, Gasper noted that while he believes that MSP members perform their jobs without regard for race, a continuing increase in the percentage of traffic stops involving African American drivers since 2017 merits further review to ensure that department policies and practices are not resulting in the disparate treatment of some motorists.
Research in other states has shown there are important factors that must be considered when analyzing traffic stop data, including the setting of an accurate baseline for comparison and information on the location of the stop, reason for the stop, whether a search was conducted and the outcome of the stop. To accomplish this advanced analysis, the MSP will employ the expertise of an independent third-party research institution to perform a comprehensive and in-depth review of its traffic stop data, taking into account all of the associated datasets. Once this advanced research and analysis is completed, the results will be shared publicly.
The MSP is committed to unbiased policing and the equitable treatment of all persons. Existing MSP policy prohibits stopping or detaining anyone based solely on their race or ethnicity. If an enforcement member is accused of stopping a motorist without a legal basis, a thorough and objective internal investigation is conducted. Discipline, up to and including termination, can result from sustained allegations of policy violations.
“The members of the Michigan State Police hold ourselves to the highest standards of professional conduct and we remain committed to performing our jobs with excellence, integrity and courtesy, treating all people with dignity and respect,” Gasper added. “If we find we can improve upon our practices to ensure fair and equitable treatment for all people, you have my commitment that we will make the necessary changes.”
Note: Photos, quotes and bios of each Bridges to BLUE citizen advisor can be found here: https://www.michigan.gov/msp/0,4643,7-123-1586_101168-536695--,00.html.