June 1, 2012
Jefferson City, Mo. – Attorney General Chris Koster today released the 12th Annual Report on Vehicle Stops. The 2011 report contains analysis on more than 1.6 million stops by 631 law enforcement agencies, including racial and ethnic information about drivers who were stopped.
Koster said Missourians can visit his website at http://ago.mo.gov/VehicleStops/ to compare the 2011 report to vehicle stops data going back to 2000, when data collection was first required by Missouri law.
“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,” Koster said. “It is vital that Missouri law enforcement agencies continue to review the rates of stops and searches and to continue their outreach efforts.”
The Attorney General reiterated that the disparity index for any community is not conclusive evidence of racial profiling.
The “disparity indexes” compare the proportion of stops for drivers of a particular race or ethnicity to the proportion of state or local population of that racial or ethnic group. A value of “1” represents no disparity; values over “1” indicate over-representation, while values under “1” indicate under-representation.
Koster said in 2011 the statewide African-American disparity index was 1.63, up slightly from the 2010 rate of 1.61. The disparity index for African-American drivers has increased in ten of the last 12 years.
The report shows the rate (disparity index) at which Hispanics were stopped decreased in 2011 to .65, compared to .78 in 2010, a rate lower than that of white drivers. However, search rates (the rates at which drivers of a given race are searched subsequent to a traffic stop) for both Hispanic and African-American drivers continue to be higher than for white drivers. Hispanic drivers were 1.72 times more likely than white drivers to be searched. African-American drivers were 1.53 times more likely to be searched when stopped than white drivers.
Despite the elevated search rates, Hispanics were less likely than white drivers to be found with contraband subsequent to being searched. While the “contraband hit rate” for white drivers was 24.42, the rate of Hispanics searched and found to have contraband was 13.51. The “contraband hit rate” for African-American drivers was 18.42.
Koster thanked and commended law enforcement agencies for their willingness to compile information for the report. He noted that 96 percent of agencies submitted information. Twenty-five agencies did not respond in 2011, an increase over the 24 departments that failed to report in 2010. The Attorney General's office has submitted the names of those agencies that did not respond to the Governor, as required by law.
Koster noted that the report contains information on vehicle stops from 631 law enforcement agencies, so each individual community can examine its own data and situation. For example, it is helpful to compare departments of a similar size or from similar geographic areas. Additionally, factors such as crime patterns or the existence of an interstate highway in a given region may affect data samples. Koster noted that general statewide trends do not necessarily reflect trends for individual departments, which should be considered on an individual basis.
The full report plus data for individual law enforcement agencies can be found online at http://ago.mo.gov/VehicleStops/.