Proportionally More Blacks than Whites Pulled Over While Driving in Missouri

Attorney General Chris Koster today released the Missouri Vehicle Stops Report, which breaks down the total number of traffic stops, vehicle searches and arrest rate by race. The report also calculates what's called "the disparity index," which releates each racial group's total proportion of traffic stops to its proportion of the driving population. Once again, if you're black and driving in Missouri, you're far more likely to be pulled over than any other race -- but if you're black and driving in Missouri, you probably already knew that.

According to the numbers, blacks are 72 percent more likely to be pulled over by police than white drivers. As AG Koster notes in his analysis of the report, "These findings continue a disturbing trend for African-American drivers in Missouri. Specifically, the disparity indexes for African-American drivers have increased in each of the last six years except 2010."

The disparity index for black drivers did drop in 2010, but not by much. It dropped from 1.62 in 2009 down to 1.61 in 2010. For 2011, the disparity index is back up to 1.63.

Koster's analysis sounds a further ominous note. "The disparity index for African-American drivers has increased in ten of the last 12 years. The 2011 disparity rate of 1.63 compares to a rate of 1.27 twelve years ago."

In other words, in twelve years of recording data and publicizing the information, there has been no improvement in the disparity rate. Despite that seeming inequality, Koster warns that "Statistical disproportion does not prove that law enforcement officers are making vehicle stops based on the perceived ethnicity of the driver. The compilation and analysis of data, however, does provide both law enforcement and the community with a starting point for dialogue to appreciate each other's perspective and arrive at common ground."

That may be, but just don't attempt such a dialogue if you're black and standing on the shoulder while a cop runs your license. The last stat measured in the report, arrest rate, shows that 4.92 percent of the total population that's pulled over ends up being arrested; whites are arrested 4.15 percent of the time, while blacks are arrested 8.09 percent of that time -- or roughly twice as many times if you're keeping score at home.
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