Today Attorney General Chris Koster released the 11th Annual Report on Vehicle Stops by Peace Officers in Missouri. 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. The full report plus data for individual law enforcement agencies can be found online at http://ago.mo.gov/VehicleStops.
Concerns by the citizens of Missouri regarding allegations of racial profiling by law enforcement prompted the legislature in the year 2000 to pass Section 590.650, RSMo. Racial profiling has been defined as the inappropriate use of race by law enforcement when making a decision to stop, search or arrest a motorist. The law requires that all peace officers in the state report specific information including a driver’s race for each vehicle stop made in the state. Law enforcement agencies are required to turn in the data to the Attorney General, and the Attorney General is required to compile the data and report to the Governor no later than June 1 of each year. Interestingly, the law allows the Governor to withhold state funds for any agency that does not comply with the law.
In 2010, the Missouri statewide African-American disparity index was 1.61, down slightly from the 2009 rate of 1.62. This is the second time since data collection began that the disparity index for African-American drivers has decreased – the other being a decrease from 1.36 in 2003 to 1.34 in 2004.
The report shows the rate (disparity index) at which Hispanics were stopped decreased in 2010 to .78, compared to .81 in 2009, a rate lower than that of white drivers. However, search rates (the rates at which drivers of a given race are searched subsequent to a traffic stop) for both Hispanic and African-American drivers continue to be higher than for whites. Hispanic drivers were 2.13 times more likely than white drivers to be searched. African-Americans were 1.86 times more likely to be searched when stopped than whites.
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.
Funkenbusch encourages you to view your individual community on the Attorney General’s site.
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