Reported by April Taylor
The 14th Annual Report on Vehicle Stops, which is a 2013 compilation of data regarding traffic stops of Missouri citizens, was recently released by Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. The report revealed that African-Americans are stopped at much higher rates than whites. Koster cautions that the data does not necessarily indicate racial profiling is occurring but does suggest that the data does give reason to be concerned.
The report used “disparity indexes” to analyze the data with any value over 1 indicating that a group is over represented among the sample, and any value under 1 indicating that a group is underrepresented in the sample. Using this disparity index, analysis of the data revealed that African-Americans had a disparity index of 1.59 in terms of being pulled over for traffic stops. This was in increase from the 2012 rate of 1.57 and represents the 11th year out of the last 14 years that there was an increase in the disparity index for African Americans.
Koster also pointed out that in 2000, African-Americans were 30 percent more likely to be pulled over than whites, but that number jumped to 66 percent in 2013. Another piece of disturbing data uncovered by the report is that African-American drivers found themselves 1.89 times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop than white drivers. For Hispanics, that rate was 1.87.
In an ironic twist, rates for finding contraband were significantly higher for white drivers than for Black and Hispanic drivers. The “contraband hit” rate was 26.3 for whites, 18.8 for African-Americans, and 18 for Hispanics. These statistics prove that although minorities are stopped more often, white drivers give more reason to be stopped and searched because data indicates they are more likely to be carrying contraband.
Attorney General Koster stated the following about the report: “One of the best uses of these reports is as a springboard for dialogue and communication between law enforcement agencies and the Missourians they serve. It is vital that Missouri law enforcement agencies review the rates of stops and searches and continue their community outreach efforts.”