2017 Vehicle Stops Report to be released by Missouri Attorney General
(COLUMBIA, MO) - The 2017 Vehicle Stops Report, to be released by Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley in June, measures several data points related to traffic stops conducted by law enforcement agencies across the state. The reporting, which began in 2000, was in response to Missouri citizens concerned that racial profiling by law enforcement was occurring. Disparity index, stop rates, search rates, arrest rates and contraband hit rates are included in the report.
The disparity index, which is often the focal point of the report, compares the percentage of traffic stops involving members of a certain group to the percentage of driving-age individuals who are members of that group, as measured by the 2010 Census. A disparity-index value of 1 indicates that members of a group are stopped at precisely the rate one would expect if all members of the driving-age public were equally likely to be involved in a traffic stop. A disparity-index value above 1 indicates that a group accounts for a higher proportion of traffic stops than its percentage of the population alone would predict.
The 2017 report for the Columbia Police Department will indicate a projected disparity index of 3.28 for African American drivers, an increase from 3.13 in 2016.
"The data shows that vehicle stops tend to be conducted in areas where we see the highest numbers of reported violent crime, calls for service and accidents," Columbia Police Chief Ken Burton said. "The Columbia Police Department takes this data seriously and reviews the stop data of specific officers who have a high disparity index. We’ve found that those officers were generally pulling over individuals in the beat they are assigned to or had a high disparity index because they didn’t pull over very many people."
To ensure that all reports of racial profiling are reviewed consistently and thoroughly, they are all investigated by Internal Affairs. When looking at a several year span, there is a downward trend in the number of total vehicle stops and citations issued. The data shows that 85 percent of reported violations resulted in a warning. Additionally, the data shows that from last year’s report there was a drop in consent searches. That came after a policy change requiring proof of consent before an officer could conduct a search if there is no reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
"We continue to look at data and we have not seen an apparent pattern of profiling, however, we acknowledge that some community members have experiences with officers that make them have negative feelings and perceptions about police. We want to continue to improve the relationship with everyone in our community and encourage citizens to have discussions with us about this report," City Manager Mike Matthes said.
If a citizen feels that they have been racially profiled, the City encourages them to make a report by calling Internal Affairs at 573-874-7431 or the anonymous line at 573-874-7697
"Together, with mutual understanding and sincere conversations, we can face these challenges and overcome them," Matthes said.