2006 VEHICLE STOPS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

I. BACKGROUND

Concerns by the citizens of Missouri and the Missouri legislature regarding allegations of racial profiling by law enforcement prompted the passage of state law Section 590.650, RSMo (2000), which was enacted Aug. 28, 2000. Racial profiling has been defined as the inappropriate use of race by law enforcement when making a decision to stop, search or arrest a motorist.

Missouri’s state law requires that all peace officers in the state report specific information including a driver’s race for each vehicle stop made in the state. Law enforcement agencies are required to turn in the data to the Attorney General, and the Attorney General is required to compile the data and report to the Governor no later than June 1 of each year. The law allows the Governor to withhold state funds for any agency that does not comply with the law. State law requires that all information be reported to the Attorney General’s Office by March 1.

The summary of statewide racial profiling data has been provided by Scott H. Decker, professor and director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University; Richard Rosenfeld, professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis; and Jeffrey Rojek, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina.


Table 1. 2006 statewide summary of results
 
  Total White Black Hispanic Asian Am. Indian Other
Population 4,498,871 3,783,810 490,250 94,062 62,762 19,697 48,290
Stops 1,603,245 1,280,884 260,899 36,510 12,950 1,320 10,682
Searches 128,377 87,853 34,076 5,380 391 132 545
Arrests 94,286 63,473 26,264 3,862 296 97 294
Statewide population % 100% 84.11% 10.90% 2.09% 1.40% .44% 1.07%
Disparity index - - - .95 1.49 1.09 .58 .19 .62
Search rate 8.01% 6.86% 13.06% 14.74% 3.02% 10.00% 5.10%
Contraband hit rate 21.19% 22.61% 18.72% 14.35% 15.86% 26.52% 16.88%
Arrest rate 5.88% 4.96% 10.07% 10.58% 2.29% 7.35% 2.75%

Notes: Population figures are 2006 census estimates for persons 16 and older who designated a single race. Hispanics may be of any race. Other includes persons of mixed race and unknown race.

Disparity index = (proportion of stops / proportion of population). A value of 1 represents no disparity; values greater than 1 indicate over-representation, values less than 1 indicate under-representation.

Search rate = (searches / stops) X 100.

Contraband hit rate = (searches with contraband found / total searches) X 100.

Arrest rate = (arrests / stops) X 100.

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II. STATEWIDE FINDINGS

This report summarizes the data from 635 law enforcement agencies in Missouri for 2006. An additional 53 agencies indicated they made no vehicle stops during the year. Footnote 1 This represents 90 percent of the 708 law enforcement agencies in the state. (An additional 54 of those agencies indicated they made no vehicle stops during the year.)

The agencies filing reports recorded a total of 1,603,245 vehicle stops, resulting in 128,377 searches and 94,286 arrests. Table 1 breaks out the stops, searches and arrests by race and ethnic group.  Footnote 2

The population totals in the table are census estimates for 2006 compiled by Geolytics Inc. In reports for years prior to 2005, the population totals were from the 2000 census. The estimated totals are used in this report to reflect population change in Missouri since 2000. “These estimates,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau, “are used in federal funding allocations, as denominators for vital rates and per capita time series, as survey controls, and in monitoring recent demographic changes” (emphasis added; see www.census.gov/popest/). Footnote 3

Four summary indicators are included in Table 1 that may be useful in initiating further assessments of racial profiling in vehicle stops. The first, termed the “disparity index,” relates each group’s proportion of total vehicle stops to its proportion of the driving-age population 16 and older.

A value of 1 on this index indicates that a group’s proportion of vehicle stops equals its population proportion: it is neither “under-represented” nor “overrepresented” in vehicle stops. Values above 1 indicate over-representation, and those below 1 indicate underrepresentation. For example, the 1,280,884 whites who were stopped accounted for 79.9 percent of all vehicle stops in 2006.

Whites comprise an estimated 84.1 percent of Missouri’s driving age population. The value for whites on the disparity index is, therefore, .95 (.7989107/.8410582). Whites were stopped, in other words, at slightly below the rate we would expect based on their fraction of the estimated population age 16 and older.

The same is not the case for several of the other groups. African-Americans represent 10.9 percent of the population 16 and older but 16.3 percent of all vehicle stops, for a value on the disparity index of 1.49. African-Americans were stopped at a rate 49 percent greater than expected based solely on their proportion of the population 16 and older.

Hispanics were stopped at a rate slightly above their population proportion, and Asians, American Indians, and persons of mixed or unknown race were stopped at a rate well below their proportion of the driving-age population.

The values on the disparity index for the groups can be compared directly to one another. For example, the likelihood that an African-American motorist was stopped is 1.57 times that of a white motorist (1.49/.95). In other words, African-Americans were 57 percent more likely than whites to be stopped in 2006.

The disparity index is a gauge of the likelihood drivers of a given race or ethnic group are stopped based on their proportion of the residential population 16 and older, and not on the population of motorists on the state’s streets, roads and highways.

A group’s share of the residential population 16 and older may or may not equal its proportion of drivers. Although in most instances the two proportions should be close, that may not always be the case.

The extremely low index values for American Indians, for example, could indicate that they are under-represented among the state’s motorists. In addition, motorists from other states are stopped on Missouri’s roadways. To the extent that out-of-state drivers do not reflect the race and ethnic composition of Missouri’s population, the disparity index will not accurately portray the probability that Missouri residents are stopped.

The second indicator that can be used to assess racial profiling is the “search rate,” or the number of searches divided by the number of stops (x 100). (Searches include searches of drivers or property in the vehicle.)

The search rate for all motorists who were stopped is 8.01 percent. Asians were searched at a rate well below the statewide average, and African-Americans, Hispanics and American Indians were searched at rates above the average for all motorists who were stopped. The search rates for the groups also can be compared directly with one another. African-Americans were 1.90 times more likely to be searched than whites (13.06/6.86). Hispanics were 2.15 times more likely than whites to be searched (14.74/6.86).

The reasons for conducting a search and the outcome of the search (such as finding contraband) should be considered when making comparisons across groups. Some searches are conducted with the consent of the driver, or because the officer observed suspected contraband in plain view, had reasonable suspicion that an individual may possess a weapon (Terry search), or other reasons. Contraband was found in just over 20 percent of all searches. These searches may or may not result in an arrest.

Other searches are conducted incident to arrest, which means there is no other reason given for the search other than arrest. Searches are almost always performed when there is an outstanding arrest warrant, whether or not contraband may be present.

The third summary indicator, the “contraband hit rate,” reflects the percentage of searches in which contraband is found. Contraband was found in 21 percent of all searches conducted in 2006. However, there is considerable variation in the contraband hit rate across race and ethnic groups.

The contraband hit rate for whites was 22.6 percent, compared with 18.7 percent for African-Americans and 14.4 percent for Hispanics. This means that on average searches of African-Americans and Hispanics are less likely than searches of whites to produce contraband. This difference may result in part from the higher arrest rates for African-Americans and Hispanics, circumstances that compel a search.

The “arrest rate” is the fourth summary indicator included in Table 1 that may be useful for assessing racial profiling. Just under 6 percent of all vehicle stops resulted in an arrest (94,286/1,603,245). The probability of arrest varies across the race and ethnic groups.

Between 10 percent and 11 percent of the stops of African-Americans and Hispanics resulted in arrest, compared with 5 percent of the stops of whites. African-Americans and Hispanics are stopped and searched more often than whites, but they are arrested more often as well.

There are three appendixes to this year’s full report. Appendix A presents the vehicle stop analysis using the statewide proportions of race and ethnicity, rather than those for each jurisdiction.

This year’s report compares the 2006 disparity index to the disparity indexes for 2000 through 2005. Footnote 4 These comparisons are presented in Appendix B.

For each agency, the disparity index for each raceethnic group is presented for 2000-2005. For the state as a whole, the key indicators show very small changes between 2005 and 2006. The disparity index is generally stable across the two years, with small increases for African-Americans and Hispanics.

The search rate (the percentage of stops in which a search is conducted) for these groups also grew somewhat. This increase may reflect the higher arrest rates for African-Americans and Hispanics in 2006 (10.1 percent and 10.6 percent, respectively) compared with 2005 (8.2 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively).

The third appendix included with this year’s report, Appendix C, presents the key indicators using the 2000 census figures for each jurisdiction’s race and ethnic populations.

A reasoned determination of the existence of racial profiling in a community requires a comprehensive evaluation of the full range of information compiled in the agency reports. This brief summary of selected indicators for the state as a whole is intended to stimulate those local evaluations and dialogue.

Table 2. Agencies that did not submit reports as required by state law
 *Denotes agencies that submitted reports, but after the deadline. (Section 590.650, RSMo)
Altenburg Police Dept. Bismarck Police Dept. Browning Police Dept.
Bull Creek Village Police Dept. Bunceton Police Dept. Canalou Police Dept.
Conway Police Department Cowgill Police Department Creighton Police Dept.
Glen Echo Park Police Dept. Gordonville Police Department Howardville Police Dept.
Leadwood Police Dept. Lilbourn Police Dept. Schuyler County Sheriff's Dept.
Tallapoosa Police Dept. Trimble Police Dept. Walker Police Dept.
*Wardsville Police Dept

Table 3. Agencies that reported no stops (many contract out vehicle stops to other agencies)
Anniston Police Dept. Augusta Police Dept. Berger Police Dept.
Brunswick Police Dept. Buchanan County Drug Strike Force Calhoun Police Dept.
Chamois Police Dept. Deepwater Police Dept. DeWitt Police Dept.
Dudley Police Dept. Essex Police Dept. Fairfax Police Dept.
Fairview Police Dept. Farber Police Dept. Forest City Police Dept.
Frankford Police Dept. Gainesville Police Dept. Gilman City Police Dept.
Glenwood Police Dept. Golden City Police Dept. Gravois Mills Police Dept.
Hale Police Dept. Higbee Police Dept. Holland Police Dept.
Homestead Village Police Dept. Houston Lake Police Dept. Irondale Police Dept.
Keytesville Police Dept. LaBelle Police Dept. Laddonia Police Dept.
Lake Annette Police Dept. Lake Timberline Police Dept. Meramec College Police Dept.
Mineral Area College Dept. of Public Safety Mokane Police Dept. Moline Acres Police Dept.
Neelyville Police Dept. Norwood Police Dept. Oakland Police Dept.
Oregon Police Dept. Oronogo Police Dept. Pasadena Park Police Dept.
Prairie Home Police Dept. Qulin Police Dept. Revere Police Dept.
Shelbyville Police Dept. St. Louis Community College Police Dept. Stanberry Police Dept.
Stockton Police Dept. Urich Police Dept. Vinita Terrace Police Dept.
Westwood Police Dept. Winchester Police Dept. Wyatt Police Dept.

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III. ANALYSIS BY ATTORNEY GENERAL JAY NIXON

This report represents the eighth annual analysis of vehicle stop data in Missouri, a review which includes information about more than 1.6 million stops by law enforcement in the state during 2006. This report can be compared to data going back to 2000.

Both this report and the 2005 report used census estimates to reflect the changes in Missouri’s population since the 2000 census. That census was the benchmark for the previous five reports. As our state’s population changes in number and demographics, these census estimates can help provide a more accurate benchmark to analyze the data. (Appendix C, found in Volume 9, provides key indicators by each agency using the 2000 census information.)

The overall number of stops reported grew again significantly in 2006. The number grew from just over 1.5 million in 2005 to more than 1.6 million in 2006. A part of this increase could be explained by a change in the law that took effect in August 2004 that requires reporting of a wider variety of stops, including investigative stops. Another explanation might lie in better reporting methods used by various agencies.

As I have said in previous years, the disparity index for African-American and Hispanic drivers continues to be of concern. The disparity index for African- American drivers increased from 1.42 in 2005 to 1.49 in 2006, while the disparity index for Hispanic drivers increased from .97 in 2005 to 1.09 in 2006. Both groups continue to have search rates about twice that of white drivers.

With 635 law enforcement agencies conducting vehicle stops in Missouri, there is no single explanation why these disparities exist. This report provides statistical information so the data from each agency can be examined, and appropriate questions asked of those agencies.

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. It is vital that Missouri law enforcement agencies continue to review the rates of stops and searches and to continue their outreach efforts.

Statistical disproportion does not prove that law enforcement officers are making vehicle stops based on the perceived race or ethnicity of the driver. The compilation and analysis of data, however, does help both law enforcement and the community with a starting point for dialogue to appreciate each other’s perspective and arrive at common ground.

I am proud that Missouri took a leadership role in collecting and examining vehicle stop data on this scale. We continue to show that commitment through laws that require each law enforcement agency to not only have a written policy regarding racial profiling, but also to provide additional training to officers and to promote the use of effective, non-combative methods for carrying out their duties in a racially and culturally diverse environment.

Missouri law enforcement continues to do commendable work in the face of many challenges. I appreciate their efforts and willingness to compile the information for these annual reports. The number of agencies that did not comply with the vehicle stops reporting law dropped this year, from 32 to 19, a positive development. A list of these agencies has been turned over to the Governor for imposition of the statutory sanctions.

Along with the data, several individual law enforcement agencies provided other information about factors that may impact their numbers. The reader should consider these factors when examining the data.

As I have said in my analysis of previous reports: law-abiding drivers have the right to travel throughout Missouri without the fear that they will be stopped based solely on their race or ethnicity. Missourians of all races and ethnic groups and law enforcement officers from throughout the state are committed to this premise with me.

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FOOTNOTES

Footnote 1: The city of Independence has been excluded due to errors in stop data.

Footnote 2: Hispanics may be of any race. About 1 percent of the population designated two or more races. These persons are included in the “other” category along with persons of unknown race.

Footnote 3: For detailed descriptions of the methodology used in forming the population estimates, see www.census.gov/popest/ and www.geolytics.com/USCensus,Estimates-Projections,Data,Methodology,Products.asp.
 
Footnote 4: Caution should be used when comparing 2000 to subsequent years, especially for smaller agencies, because the 2000 figures are based on only four months of traffic data, while those for subsequent years are based on the full calendar year.

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