In 2015, African-American drivers were 69% more likely than white drivers to be pulled over. That’s according to an annual statewide vehicle stops report. In 2000, a law took effect that required the state Attorney General’s office to compile these reports. The first one said African-American drivers were 31% more likely than white drivers to be stopped by Missouri law enforcement officer.
Sarah Rossi with the ACLU of Missouri says racially biased policing continues to increase.
“That is an insanely high disparity rate, and they’re even more likely to be stopped, searched and arrested and they’re less likely to have contraband on them than white people. You can’t argue with the numbers anymore,” said Rossi.
She wants lawmakers to pass the fair and impartial policing act which would include that all pedestrian stops be documented. She says it would also increase accuracy of these annual reports.
“We have sixteen years of the race consistency going up. At some point, we have to stop patting ourselves on the back for the good thing we did sixteen years ago and start moving forward to actually fix the problem that was uncovered by the good thing we did sixteen years ago,” said Rossi.
The report also says Hispanics were more likely than any other race to be searched last year in Missouri.
Attorney General Chris Koster says the legislature enacted the law requiring collection of vehicle stops data 16 years ago, and has not substantively revised it since that time. Koster wants the Missouri General Assembly to decide “how to make the annual vehicle stops report more meaningful,” soliciting suggestions from relevant stakeholders including “law enforcement, local governments, and representatives from the communities they serve. He says such suggestions could include measures to require changes in the type of data collected and to strengthen the penalties for individual departments that fail to participate in the reporting process.”
There were 15 law enforcement agencies that did not submit the required information by the deadline.
“While statistical disproportion does not prove that law enforcement officers are making vehicle stops based on the perceived race or ethnicity of the driver,” Koster said, “this compilation and analysis of data provides law enforcement, legislators, and the public a starting point as they consider improvements to process and changes to policy to address these issues.”
The Missouri Sheriffs’ Association failed to return a message requesting comment.
To view the 2015 report in its entirety, along with the data reported by Missouri’s law-enforcement agencies, click here: http://ago.mo.gov/home/vehicle-stops-report.