Amending Case Review Policies to Reduce Disparate Impact of Non-Safety Traffic Stops (2021)

Ingham County District Attorney’s Office (Lansing, MI)

Population: 292,406 | Number of Full-Time Prosecutors: 34 | Contact Information

In the Ingham County District Attorney’s Office, prosecutors are no longer filing cases that result from non-safety traffic stops, even where contraband may be discovered. The rationale behind this innovation is to reduce the disparate impact that such stops have on communities of color. Nationwide, drivers of color are disproportionately stopped and searched at a higher rate than similarly situated white drivers, even though searches of white drivers were more likely to result in the recovery of illegal contraband.

By informing law enforcement agencies that contraband found during such stops will no longer result in filing criminal charges, it is believed that there will be fewer non-safety traffic stops, thus reducing any discriminatory impact. This policy has several exclusions, including one for investigatory stops. Implementation was preceded by coordination and extensive communication with local law enforcement.