Black-White Disparity In MO Traffic Stops Called “Disturbing Trend”


The rate at which African Americans were stopped on Missouri roads relative to their share of the population was the highest last year it has been since the state began collecting data in 2000, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The annual report by Attorney General Chris Koster's office said black drivers were 75 percent more likely than white drivers to be stopped. That gap is up from 2013 and well above the 31 percent recorded in 2000. “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.”

“These findings continue a disturbing trend for African-American drivers in Missouri,” the report says. “The disparity index for African-American drivers has increased steadily over the last fifteen years, with only slight, temporary drops” on three occasions. Scott Decker, an Arizona State University criminologist who helps the state analyze the data, said it would be more telling to compare the search rates by race once people are stopped. Across Missouri, 9 percent of blacks stopped were also searched, compared to 5.2 percent of whites. But contraband was found 26.9 percent of the time with whites and 21.4 percent with blacks. Hispanics were much less likely to be pulled over than blacks or whites but were searched 9.9 percent of the time.

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