Statistics released by the Attorney General’s office indicate that black drivers in Missouri are two-thirds more likely to be pulled over by police that white drivers. Hispanic drivers are five percent more likely to be pulled over.
The office has released the 8 th annual report on vehicle stops in Missouri. The report for 2007 details more than a million and a half traffic stops made by 636 law enforcement agencies. It has been released to the governor’s office and the General Assembly.
"I think the figure that has caused concern is the disparity index in the vehicle stops for African-American drivers," says Attorney General spokesman Scott Holste, "That is a number that increased from 2006 to 2007."
The disparity index for black drivers rose from 1.49 in 2006 to 1.58 in 2007. The disparity index of Hispanic drivers dropped from 1.09 in 2006 to 1 in 2007.Criminology professors who review the numbers for the Attorney General’s office say an increase in the disparity index might be attributable to a change in the law in 2004. That year, the law required counting all traffic stops, not just stops that result in a citation or an arrest.
The statewide numbers disclose that in 2007, black drivers were nearly two-thirds more likely to be pulled over than white drivers. Hispanic drivers were five times as likely.
Holste says it is too early to make many judgments based on the data gathered so far. He says the trend bears watching.
"No one in Missouri should be pulled over just solely on the basis of race," Holste says, "That is a message we have conveyed over the years, too."
The entire report can be views online at ago.mo.gov .