Media Contact

Ann Mullen, (313) 400-8562,    

January 18, 2024


DETROIT – The ACLU of Michigan released the following statement in response to a report that the Michigan State Police (MSP) commissioned and released today: 

The independent report commissioned by MSP confirms ACLU suspicions that troopers have received inadequate guidance on where and how troopers patrol, as well as inadequate training regarding traffic stops. These were factors that led to abuses that were the basis for the ACLU’s lawsuit, Sankofa v. Rose, et al. In that case, an African-American couple was pulled over without cause and detained for nearly 90 minutes as troopers questioned them, searched their vehicle and subjected them to a canine search. No contraband was located, and the couple was allowed to leave without a ticket or a warning.  

MSP employs a practice they call “going beyond the stop” that accounts for the experience of our clients in that case. The report expresses concern about this practice because troopers interpret it to mean that traffic stops that should be dealt with summarily may be extended for purposes of conducting searches and further criminal investigation. The ACLU has long held concerns that such practices may lead to constitutionally impermissible conduct. The report states: 

“Overall, the concept of discretion is inherent in law enforcement and cannot be erased; however, it also cannot be left without guidance by agencies, as unchecked discretion has the potential to result in disparities. In particular, we find there is a dearth of training and other behavioral encouragement with respect to trooper actions in ‘going beyond the stop.’ . . . In addition, it is rather crucial to note that ‘going beyond the stop’ frequently occurs in predominantly minority communities.” The report further concluded: 

“Supervisors do not sufficiently manage where and how troopers patrol, leading to disproportionate congregation in high population areas with greater minority populations.” 

Among the ACLU’s earliest concerns about MSP was an element of the agency’s performance evaluation procedure. The report states: 

“MSP leadership stressed that there is no expectation for troopers to meet a minimum number of tickets written per day, but that there is a generalized expectation that troopers are remaining productive throughout the entirety of their shift.  MSP has a legitimate interest in ensuring that its members are performing the job they are paid to do. However, the widespread cultural expectation that troopers make entries on their daily at set intervals is akin to an informal quota system and may alter how troopers patrol. In particular, troopers working Posts with large, rural areas and interspersed urban areas may ignore the rural areas if there is not enough activity and congregate in urban areas to fill their dailies. As the urban areas are more likely to contain non-White residents, this may inadvertently lead to disparate stops.” 

The following statement can be attributed to ACLU of Michigan Racial Justice Project Staff Attorney Mark Fancher: 

“Although MSP highlights the conclusion that there is no widespread discrimination, what comes through loud and clear from this report is that there are institutional practices and policies that likely have serious discriminatory effects even if they are unintended. The ACLU is pleased that MSP sought and received this review, and we now urge, in the strongest terms, that it consider the findings honestly and take immediate steps to address the deficiencies the report identifies.”  

Read the MSP-commissioned report here: