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Civil rights group accuses Ferndale Police Department of racism, over-policing


A suburban Detroit Police Department is being accused of racism and over-policing within its borders and in neighboring cities.

The Council on American Islamic Relations' Michigan chapter has released a report analyzing the Ferndale Police Department's traffic stops.

The council said it found the department stopped Black motorists at a rate far above the proportion of Black residents in Ferndale or nearby cities.

CAIR officials want the U.S. Department of Justice and an independent firm to examine policing practices in Ferndale.

In a statement, the City of Ferndale said its police department is "an open book" and "happy to cooperate" with the justice department.

The report examined traffic stops along Eight Mile road, the border between Detroit and its suburb of Ferndale, and found that 84% of citations by Ferndale police on the Detroit side of that road went to Black people.

Dawud Walid is executive director of the council. He shared some of the findings of the report during a press conference with his colleagues on Thursday morning.

“Since Ferndale claimed to be serious about diversity and inclusion, then they should take some steps so that African-Americans don't feel excluded from the city of Ferndale or maybe don't even want to drive into Ferndale,” he said.

Walid spoke alongside Amy Doukoure, an attorney with the council.

“The statistics provide some support for the fact that the city of Ferndale is engaging in policing practices that inherently catch up minorities, especially African-American, that had a disproportional rate of driving in the city or living in the city,” Doukoure said.

The report found that 75% of all stops initiated by the Ferndale Police Department in neighboring cities took place on Eight Mile Road. And the majority of the people stopped were Black.

In its press release, Ferndale said the police department requires annual hours of training for "fair and impartial policing and implicit bias."

During the press conference, the leaders with the Council on American Islamic Relations made three requests: for the Department of Justice to launch a special investigation into the policing in Ferndale of African-American motorists and other people of color, for the City of Detroit to resolve that the Ferndale Police Department is not allowed to pull drivers over who haven’t driven through Ferndale, and for the City of Ferndale to respond to an ACLU of Michigan request from nine years ago calling for an independent firm to do a thorough investigation regarding the city's statistics and policing.

Briana Rice is Michigan Public's criminal justice reporter. She's focused on what Detroiters need to feel safe and whether they're getting it.
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