A recent report released from the state attorney general of the state of Missouri shows that African-American drivers are 85 percent more likely to be pulled over by police than cops than whites. This is the highest percentage in the 18 years the state has compiled data.
The state’s Attorney General, Josh Hawley, released his office’s annual Vehicle Stops Report on Friday. This “disparity index” which compares traffic stops among races, jumped 10% from last year, when blacks were 75 percent more likely than whites to be stopped.
John Gaskin, spokesman for the St. Louis County chapter of the NAACP, said the numbers are shocking.
“Quite frankly, it’s really deplorable,” Gaskin said. “It’s why we’ve ended up in a situation where people are talking about travel advisories and African-American groups are less likely to come and do business in our state.”
The national NAACP issued a travel advisory for Missouri last July, citing last year’s vehicle stop data and other racial concerns in the state.
The statewide report, based on data self-reported by police agencies, found that Hispanics, Asians, American Indians and people of mixed or unknown races were stopped statewide at rates below their proportion of the driving-age population.
Richard Rosenfeld, a University of Missouri-St. Louis criminologist who analyzed the data for the attorney general’s office, said the report does offer evidence that police are becoming more selective in their traffic stops. The total number of stops has declined in recent years, and a higher percentage of stops are resulting in confiscation of weapons, drugs and other contraband.
“That’s all to the good,” Rosenfeld said. “We want the police to make quote, unquote, ‘good searches,’ that is, searches that produce contraband.”
White motorists were less likely to be searched than blacks, Hispanics and American Indians, but more likely to be caught with contraband. The report also found that 7.1 percent of Hispanics and 6.6 percent of blacks were arrested after stops, compared to 4.2 percent of whites.