Some state Senate proposals aim to prevent racial profiling by law enforcement. The measures would broaden law enforcement reporting standards, require training on biased policing and hold agencies and officers liable for biased policing practices.
Missouri ACLU Executive Director Jeffrey Mittman says a 2014 vehicle stops report conducted by the Attorney General’s office found that African Americans were stopped by Missouri law enforcement 66% more often than white drivers.
“For fifteen years in nearly every jurisdiction across the state, what we see is a disturbing disparity. If you are a person of color, if you are African-American, you are more likely to be stopped by police, you are more likely to be searched, you are more likely to be arrested, even though of those individuals who are stopped, if you are white you are actually more likely to have contraband in your car,” said Mittman.
That report also found that Hispanics were nearly two times more likely than white citizens to be searched.
“Senator Nasheed and Representative Dogan said enough is enough. It’s not enough to simply gather data. What we must do is have legislation that addresses a clear problem,” said Mittman. “If we have police departments in the state of Missouri that are consistently treating African-Americans or persons of color unequally and denying their constitutional rights, this is a fix for that. It also addresses pedestrian stops and ensures that if there is a search, it is consensual.”
The Fraternal Order of Police believes law enforcement should be able to police themselves on racial profiling issues.