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Apparently driving while a minority continues to be interesting in the State of Missouri:

June 1, 2009

Attorney General Koster releases annual report on vehicle stops –statistics show African-Americans continue to be stopped, searched at higher rates–

Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today released Missouri’s 2008 Annual Report on Vehicle Stops. The report includes analysis on more than 1.6 million stops by 639 law enforcement agencies, including racial and ethnic information about drivers who were stopped.

The 2008 report shows that African-Americans continue to be stopped at materially higher rates than either whites or Hispanics.

The report focuses primarily on traffic stop “disparity indexes,” which compare the proportion of stops for drivers of a particular race or ethnicity to the proportion of state or local population of that racial or ethnic group. A value of “1” represents no disparity; values over “1” indicate over-representation, while values under “1” indicate under-representation.

Koster said in 2008 the African-American disparity index was 1.59, up slightly from the 2007 rate of 1.58. This increase was the fourth rise in the disparity index for African-American drivers in the past four years. Disparity indexes for African-American drivers in the past five years were 1.34 in 2004, 1.42 in 2005, 1.49 in 2006, 1.58 in 2007 and 1.59 in 2008. In comparison, the disparity index for both whites and Hispanics was .95 in 2008. General statewide trends do not necessarily reflect trends for individual departments, which should be considered on an individual basis.

The disparity index for African-Americans was 1.27 in 2000, the first year in which the report was issued. Subsequently, the index remained in a range of 1.33 to 1.36 for three years, before beginning a generally upward trend.

Statewide data indicates that African-American drivers were 67 percent more likely than Hispanic drivers to be stopped in 2008, despite being 15 percent less likely to be arrested following the stop.

“The increasing rates at which African-American drivers are stopped are of concern to all Missourians,” Koster said. “While no single factor can provide the entire explanation for these numbers, one goal remains fixed — application of the law must be colorblind…”

…Koster noted that the report contains information on vehicle stops from 639 law enforcement agencies, so each individual community can examine its own data and situation. For example, it is helpful to compare departments of a similar size or from similar geographic areas. Additionally, factors such as crime patterns or the existence of an interstate highway in a given region may affect data samples.

The report shows the rate (disparity index) at which Hispanic drivers were stopped decreased from 1.0 in 2007 to .95 in 2008, equaling the white rate. 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 were significantly higher than for whites. African-Americans were 1.67 times more likely to be searched when stopped than whites. Hispanics were 2.02 times more likely than whites to be searched.

However, the report indicates that while Hispanics are more likely to be searched than whites, they are less likely than white drivers to be found with contraband subsequent to being searched. While the “contraband hit rate” for whites was 20.4 percent, the percentage of Hispanics searched and found to have contraband was 13.5 percent. The “contraband hit rate” for African-American drivers was 16.6 percent.

Koster thanked and commended law enforcement agencies for their willingness to compile information for the report. He noted that 98.5 percent of agencies submitted information. Eleven agencies did not respond in 2008, compared to 22 in 2007. The Attorney General’s office will submit the names of those agencies that did not respond to the Governor, as required by law.

“We are better citizens for welcoming an honest and informed discussion of this issue,” Koster said. “Citizens across the racial spectrum in our state, both inside and outside of law enforcement, want to understand and fully address this issue. It is my hope this report will be a catalyst for dialogue between law enforcement and the communities we serve,” Koster said.

The requirements for the annual report are outlined in Missouri statutes:

Missouri Revised Statutes

Chapter 590

Peace Officers, Selection, Training and Discipline

Section 590.650

August 28, 2008

Racial profiling–minority group defined–reporting requirements–annual report–review of findings–failure to comply–funds for audio-visual equipment–sobriety check points exempt.

590.650. 1. As used in this section “minority group” means individuals of African, Hispanic, Native American or Asian descent.

2. Each time a peace officer stops a driver of a motor vehicle, that officer shall report the following information to the law enforcement agency that employs the officer:

(1) The age, gender and race or minority group of the individual stopped;

(2) The reasons for the stop;

(3) Whether a search was conducted as a result of the stop;

(4) If a search was conducted, whether the individual consented to the search, the probable cause for the search, whether the person was searched, whether the person’s property was searched, and the duration of the search;

(5) Whether any contraband was discovered in the course of the search and the type of any contraband discovered;

(6) Whether any warning or citation was issued as a result of the stop;

(7) If a warning or citation was issued, the violation charged or warning provided;

(8) Whether an arrest was made as a result of either the stop or the search;

(9) If an arrest was made, the crime charged; and

(10) The location of the stop.

Such information may be reported using a format determined by the department of public safety which uses existing citation and report forms.

3. (1) Each law enforcement agency shall compile the data described in subsection 2 of this section for the calendar year into a report to the attorney general.

(2) Each law enforcement agency shall submit the report to the attorney general no later than March first of the following calendar year.

(3) The attorney general shall determine the format that all law enforcement agencies shall use to submit the report.

4. (1) The attorney general shall analyze the annual reports of law enforcement agencies required by this section and submit a report of the findings to the governor, the general assembly and each law enforcement agency no later than June first of each year.

(2) The report of the attorney general shall include at least the following information for each agency:

(a) The total number of vehicles stopped by peace officers during the previous calendar year;

(b) The number and percentage of stopped motor vehicles that were driven by members of each particular minority group;

(c) A comparison of the percentage of stopped motor vehicles driven by each minority group and the percentage of the state’s population that each minority group comprises; and

(d) A compilation of the information reported by law enforcement agencies pursuant to subsection 2 of this section.

5. Each law enforcement agency shall adopt a policy on race-based traffic stops that:

(1) Prohibits the practice of routinely stopping members of minority groups for violations of vehicle laws as a pretext for investigating other violations of criminal law;

(2) Provides for periodic reviews by the law enforcement agency of the annual report of the attorney general required by subsection 4 of this section that:

(a) Determine whether any peace officers of the law enforcement agency h
ave a pattern of stopping members of minority groups for violations of vehicle laws in a number disproportionate to the population of minority groups residing or traveling within the jurisdiction of the law enforcement agency; and

(b) If the review reveals a pattern, require an investigation to determine whether any peace officers of the law enforcement agency routinely stop members of minority groups for violations of vehicle laws as a pretext for investigating other violations of criminal law; and

(3) Provides for appropriate counseling and training of any peace officer found to have engaged in race-based traffic stops within ninety days of the review.

The course or courses of instruction and the guidelines shall stress understanding and respect for racial and cultural differences, and development of effective, noncombative methods of carrying out law enforcement duties in a racially and culturally diverse environment.

6. If a law enforcement agency fails to comply with the provisions of this section, the governor may withhold any state funds appropriated to the noncompliant law enforcement agency.

7. Each law enforcement agency in this state may utilize federal funds from community-oriented policing services grants or any other federal sources to equip each vehicle used for traffic stops with a video camera and voice-activated microphone.

8. A peace officer who stops a driver of a motor vehicle pursuant to a lawfully conducted sobriety check point or road block shall be exempt from the reporting requirements of subsection 2 of this section.

[emphasis added]

You can research the statistics for your community at the Attorney General’s web site. I thought I’d take a look at the reports for my locales.

Very interesting. This is probably part of the explanation of why I’ve never been pulled over.

Warrensburg Police Department [pdf]

Disparity index

[“Disparity index = (proportion of stops / proportion of population). A value of 1 represents no disparity; values greater than 1

indicate over-representation, values less than 1 indicate under-representation.”]

White 0.95

Black 3.08

Hispanic 0.79

Asian 0.36

Am. Indian 0.34

Other 0.48

Johnson County Sheriff’s Dept. [pdf]

Disparity index

[“Disparity index = (proportion of stops / proportion of population). A value of 1 represents no disparity; values greater than 1

indicate over-representation, values less than 1 indicate under-representation.”]

White 0.93

Black 3.94

Hispanic 1.58

Asian 0.26

Am. Indian 0.19

Other 0.49

Neither agency had comments under Agency response in the reports.

“…The increasing rates at which African-American drivers are stopped are of concern to all Missourians,” Koster said. “While no single factor can provide the entire explanation for these numbers, one goal remains fixed — application of the law must be colorblind…”