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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

"Substantial Race Disparities" in Springfield Traffic Stops, Blacks Searched at High Rates

Posted By on Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 8:59 AM

click to enlarge Springfield Police. - VIA FACEBOOK

Across Missouri, as we reported last month, black and Hispanic drivers face a disproportionate number of police stops. The city of Springfield, new data shows, is apparently no exception.

A report released yesterday by Springfield's police chief, Paul Williams, shows that African Americans in the city are stopped -- and searched -- at disproportionately high rates.

Mike Stout, Missouri State University professor of sociology and anthropology and the third-party researcher who authored the report, says his results reveal "substantial race disparities."

See also: - Black, Hispanic Missouri Drivers Face Disproportionate Number of Police Searches - Report: St. Louis Arrests Blacks For Marijuana 18 Times More Often Than Whites - ACLU Sues St. Louis County Police Dept. Over Sunshine Law in Racial Profiling Case

The "Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Traffic Stops and Stop Outcomes" report, full document on view below, analyzes data from 2011, looking at a wide range of measures, including stops, searches, arrests and probable cause.


On the whole, blacks and Hispanics in Springfield have a higher chance of being stopped, searched and arrested than the city averages.

Some highlights:

- The traffic stop rate for African-Americans (49.45 stops for every 100 African-Americans age sixteen and over) was much higher than the average stop rate for the city (20.63 stops for every 100 people age sixteen and over). African-American drivers were nearly 2.5 times more likely to be stopped then would be predicted given their proportion of the Springfield population...

- Once stopped, African-Americans (21.92 per 100 stops) and Hispanics (15.88 per 100 stops) were searched at rates higher than the city average (12.51 per 100 stops). African-Americans were searched at a rate that is 80% higher than would be predicted given their proportion of all stops, and Hispanics were searched at a rate that is 30% higher than would be predicted given their proportion of all stops.

- Traffic stop arrest rates were also higher than the city average (6.90 per 100 stops) for African-Americans (11.42 per 100 stops) and Hispanics (10.21 per 100 stops). African- American stops resulted in arrest 71% more of the time than would be predicted based on their proportion of stops, and Hispanic stops resulted in arrest 51% more of the time than would be predicted based on their proportion of stops.

The report also finds that blacks and Hispanics were stopped for investigative reasons -- as opposed to moving violations, equipment violations, etc. -- at a rate nearly double the citywide average.

What are the implications of the data?

"While some argue that racial disparities in traffic stops are symptoms of systemic bias or racial profiling on the part of the police, it is important to remember that motivations of individual police officers is incredibly difficult to prove using the type of data examined in this report," Stout says in a statement.

Springfield Police Cyber Crimes Unit. - VIA FACEBOOK
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  • Springfield Police Cyber Crimes Unit.

The police department released the report alongside the Springfield Chapter of the NAACP, which emphasizes that the data comes from 2011 and that there have been decreases in the disparities since.

The NAACP says the police chief and department have "demonstrated an ongoing good faith effort to address the NAACP and citizens' concerns regarding ethnic disparities in traffic stops."

Continue for more on the traffic data and the full report and statements form officials.

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