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Livonia police release data after billboard alleges racial profiling

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Livonia — The Livonia Police Department unveiled a new website Saturday providing the public with data on enforcement after a billboard accused the city of racial profiling.

Residents can visit the Police and Community Together (PACT) website to find the police department's policies, procedures and its staffing demographics.

On the website, www.LivoniaPACT.org, residents can see an overview of traffic citations, arrests, use of force incidents, use of deadly force incidents, citizen complaints, alongside specific policy excerpts related to use of force and non-bias training.

Livonia Police officer Carlin O'Malley checks her police cruiser before heading on patrol in Livonia on Friday, July 3, 2020.

The launch of the website comes after the department held conversations with the Livonia Human Relations Commission and Western Wayne NAACP, which led to requests for the data information to be released to the public.

“A number of community groups have shown they are willing to work in good faith with the Livonia Police Department, requesting data about the work of our officers and support more informed conversations,” said Curtis Caid, Livonia chief of police, in a statement. “The release of this data is another example of the Livonia Police Department being a leader in our region, setting a high bar for community engagement and transparency.”

Livonia Mayor Maureen Miller Brosnan said the website is the "beginning of the conversation, not the end."

She has also requested the Livonia Human Relations Commission, chaired by Rich Glover, to create opportunities for conversations on diversity, equity and inclusion for the city.

“The numbers are going to guide future policy decisions,” Brosnan said in a statement. “We will be spending time reviewing them and their impact on our community in the days and weeks ahead. Livonia, like the rest of the nation, has a chance to do better and we will. We always do.”

The actions come after a digital billboard on Interstate 96 alleged the city discriminates against black motorists.

This digital billboard says: 'Driving While Black? Racial profiling just ahead', with the tag line 'Welcome to Livonia.'

On Monday, the digital billboard from a grassroots group went up in Redford Township, just south of I-96, saying "Driving While Black? Racial Profiling Just Ahead. Welcome to Livonia."

The $1,800 installation aimed at highlighting racial profiling was paid for with crowdfunding. The billboard is expected to remain for at least two weeks, said Delisha Upshaw, a Livonia resident and member of the Facebook group Livonia Citizens Caring about Black Lives.

Hilary Smith, founder of the city group and resident of 31 years, said the actions taken by the city will build trust and accountability. She applauded the mayor and said they look forward to meeting with her office Monday to discuss how they'll reduce the $13,000 invoice they received from the police department to fulfill their FOIA request on the data relevant to traffic stops.

"So many people have invested their precious time and money over the last seven weeks to get us to this point.  We appreciate them all," Smith said. "The billboard has been a catalyst for these important first steps toward transparency for our law enforcement and long-overdue conversations about equity and inclusion in our city."

Sen. Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, commended city officials and said residents expect safety and equal protection under the law.

"Some of the data that has been released related to the Livonia Police Department is troubling, and I am glad that the city will conduct an examination to determine the extent that biased behavior impacts people of color," Polehanki said in a statement. "I look forward to seeing the city’s plans to address this issue going forward.”

Officials say the PACT website will be releasing further data and policies next week. It will also be updated to include a dashboard tracking the department data in real-time.

“Our City is no exception to national conversations about racism and inequality, and I take seriously my role as mayor in ensuring progress is made on these issues in Livonia,” Brosnan said.

srahal@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @SarahRahal_