The Attorney General says a report shows that black drivers are pulled over at a much higher rate than white drivers, and that’s concerning. Jessica Machetta has talked to him.
Attorney General Chris Koster says black and hispanic drivers not only get pulled over more often, but are also searched and arrested at a higher rate… about 70 percent more often for black motorists. He says that’s a concern, that the law should be colorblind.
Koster says the annual report shows that the problem has been escalating over the past ten years. It was about 30 percent when the report first came out in 2000.
He hopes the report will be used by law enforcement agencies and communities to start the dialogue about the disparity, and will encourage more training and awareness for law enforcement officers.
Koster says despite minorities being pulled over and searched at a higher rate, it’s white drivers who are more likely to be caught with contraband.
The 2010 report contains analysis on more than 1.6 million stops by 630 law enforcement agencies, including racial and ethnic information about drivers who were stopped.
Koster said Missourians can visit his website at www.ago.mo.gov to compare the 2010 report to vehicle stops data going back to 2000, when data collection was first required by Missouri law.
“One of the best uses of these reports is as a springboard for dialogue and communication between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve,” Koster said. “It is vital that Missouri law enforcement agencies continue to review the rates of stops and searches and to continue their outreach efforts.”
The Attorney General reiterated that the disparity index for any community is not conclusive evidence of racial profiling.
Despite the elevated search rates, Hispanics were less likely than white drivers to be found with contraband subsequent to being searched. While the “contraband hit rate” for whites was 24.5 percent, the percentage of Hispanics searched and found to have contraband was 14.4 percent. The “contraband hit rate” for African-American drivers was 17.5 percent.
Koster thanked and commended law enforcement agencies for their willingness to compile information for the report. He noted that 98.3 percent of agencies submitted information. Twenty-four agencies did not respond … The Attorney General’s office will submit the names of those agencies that did not respond to the Governor, as required by law.
The full report is at http://ago.mo.gov/VehicleStops/.