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Every year, the Missouri Attorney General is required by law to release a report on the traffic stops made by law enforcement officials. The report includes racial and ethnic data about drivers who were stopped. KSMU’s Jennifer Davidson has more on this year’s report, which was released Friday.
The data covers traffic stops made in 2012 – over 1.6 million traffic stops.
What we’re looking at here is the so-called “disparity index.” That compares the proportion of stops for drivers of a particular race to the proportion of state or local population of that racial group. So, avalue of “1” represents no disparity. Values over “1” indicate that the group was over-represented in traffic stops, and less than one indicates under-representation.
Attorney General Chris Koster said the disparity index for African Americans getting pulled over is still higher than “1,” at 1.57. The disparity index for whites getting pulled over was .95. In other words, blacks were 62% more likely than whites to be stopped based on their respective proportions. Hispanics were pulled over at a lower rate than white drivers, but they were searched nearly twice as often when they were pulled over.
“One of the best uses of these reports is as a springboard for dialogue and communication between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve,” Koster said in a release. “It is vital that Missouri law enforcement agencies continue to review the rates of stops and searches and to continue their outreach efforts.”
The Springfield Police Department’s disparity index for pulling white motorists over hovered right around “1”; for blacks, it was 2.3, meaning if you were a black motorist in Springfield last year, you were more than twice as likely to be pulled over than if you were white. That’s down slightly from the previous year. To see the disparity index on your specific law enforcement, you can click here.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Davidson.