Driving While Black: Attorney General Reports Black Missouri Drivers 91% More Likely to be Stopped

A report from Missouri Attorney General shows black drivers across the state are 91 percent more likely than white motorists to be pulled over by police.  

The Springfield NAACP says numbers from the report have launched leadership to start working with law enforcement to find solutions.

Local law enforcement does not agree. Lawrence County Sheriff Brad Delay doesn’t buy the report, stating “A lot of times, there area reasons for that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are probably those in there that don’t need to be in this profession, but the vast majority in them, this is being done again to show that we are not racially profiling.” Click here to watch Lawrence County Sheriff Brad Delay’s interview.

The data stands in stark contrast to Lawrence County Sheriff Brad Delay’s position. In Lawrence County, the disparity index for black drivers was 8.26. Anything over 1 indicates that there was an over representation of stops for the proportion of the population.

Meanwhile, the disparity index for white drivers was 0.97. Anything under 1 indicates that there was an under representation of stops for the proportion of the population. Click here and scroll to page 585 to see Lawrence County’s statistics.

Driving While Black: Southwest Missouri Statistics

The data does not lie.

In Greene County, the disparity index for black drivers was 2.82. Anything over 1 indicates that there was an over representation of stops for the proportion of the population. But the disparity index for white drivers was 0.97, indicating that there was an under representation of stops for the proportion of the population. Click here and scroll to page 413 to see Greene County’s statistics.

In Stone County, the disparity index for black drivers was 21.21! While the disparity index for white drivers was 0.99. Click here and scroll to page 1035 to see Stone County’s statistics.

In Christian County, the disparity index for black drivers was 7.38. But the disparity index for white drivers was 0.98. Click here and scroll to page 203 to see Christian County’s statistics.

In Laclede County, the disparity index for black drivers was 5.88. But the disparity index for white drivers was 0.99. Click here and scroll to page 547 to see Laclede County’s statistics.

In Taney County, the disparity index for black drivers was 3.15. But the disparity index for white drivers was 1.03. Click here and scroll to page 1061 to see Taney County’s statistics.

The 2018 report found the statewide search rate for black and Hispanic drivers were greater than white individuals (black: 8.93; Hispanic: 8.44; white: 6.04). Interestingly, the contraband hit rate was higher among white drivers (black: 33.82; Hispanic: 29.15; white: 35.68). But arrest rates were higher for black and Hispanic people (black: 6.37; Hispanic: 6.26; white: 4.25).

“A Report is Not Enough. Actions Must Be Taken.”

Lawmakers and activists immediately called for swift action in the wake of the report. Sara Baker, ACLU Legislative and Policy Director, addressed the report, stating that “For the eighteenth year in a row, the Missouri Attorney General’s office has released a report that shows black communities, and people of color are disproportionately stopped and searched by law enforcement. A report is not enough. Actions must be taken.”

But yesterday, the Missouri Sheriff’s Association pushed back. Kevin Merritt, Executive Director of the Sheriff’s Association, said that “Race alone is not dispositive of why the stop was made; neither is a disparity index.” Merritt called for expansion include data related to whether the officer knew the race of an individual before the stop was made.

“We appreciate any and all feedback on the Vehicle Stops Report as we are continuously working to improve the data collection and accuracy,” Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for the attorney general, said in a statement to The Missouri Times. “With the 2020 Census approaching, we’re looking into best ways to integrate the most accurate data possible moving forward. Additionally, we hope the proposed changes to this year’s vehicle stops report will provide the most accurate and insightful analysis of stops in Missouri since the report’s inception in 2000.”

The Special Committee on Criminal Justice announced that it plans on holding public hearings in Kansas City and St. Louis on racial profiling and civil asset forfeiture before the General Assembly convenes next year. Source.

It will be interesting to see how Southwest Missouri law enforcement responds to this Report and whether it makes any changes in the way it trains officers in implicit bias and the way it targets vehicle stops.

Click here to read the full Attorney General Report.