African-American drivers are more likely to be pulled over and searched by Missouri law enforcement, and white drivers are more likely than Hispanic or black drivers to have contraband in the car, says a new report from the Attorney General.
Attorney General Chris Koster released his fourteenth annual report of traffic stops last week, highlighting the disproportionate number of black drivers pulled over.
"African-American drivers in Missouri were 66 percent more likely than white drivers to be stopped in 2013 versus 30 percent more likely in 2000," Koster says. "This suggests a disturbing trend, and I hope communities with similar findings will make a serious effort to identify the causes."
Koster says his report isn't conclusive evidence of racial profiling, especially since crime patterns or an interstate highway can impact data samples. Rather, it measures the "disparity index," or the proportion of stops for drivers of a particular race or ethnicity to the proportion of the local population of that racial or ethnic group. A disparity index score of one means law enforcement pulls over drivers of a certain race proportionately to how many people of that race live in the area. A score higher than one means a group is over-represented in the number of traffic stops.
In 2013, the statewide disparity index for African-Americans increased to 1.59, the eleventh increase in fourteen years. The disparity index for black drivers in 2000 was 1.27.
Police are more likely to search black and Hispanic drivers than white drivers, even though white drivers are more likely to have contraband in the car, the report says.
In 2013, African-American drivers were 1.89 times more likely to be searched when stopped than white drivers. Hispanic drivers were 1.87 times more likely than white drivers to be searched even though they are stopped proportionally less often than white drivers.
Police find contraband in the cars of white drivers 26.3 percent of the time, according to the report, compared to 18 percent for both Hispanic and black drivers.
Here's a graph of the statewide results:
And here are the disparity index results for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police: