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Committee meets with Columbia police to discuss traffic stops that resulted in no action

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

According to the 2021 Attorney General’s Missouri Vehicle Stops Report, 184 drivers pulled over were released with no action in Columbia last year.

“Essentially that means that a stop was conducted where the driver did not receive a ticket, did not receive a written warning, or was not taken into custody for an arrest,” Lieutenant Clint Sinclair with the Columbia Police Department said. 

Sinclair said the data can be misleading, and the point of Tuesday's meeting was to clarify what the data means. Sinclair said officers may mark no action when they pull over a vehicle and the driver was charged for something else, but since the charge was not related to the traffic stop, the officer would still mark no action. 

“So when we are doing traffic stops they can quickly evolve into something more than what we originally stopped them for,” Sinclair said. “For instance, we could stop a car for speeding, and then end up making a custodial arrest for something completely different.”

Sinclair said in instances like this, police may pull somebody over for speeding, but find something else,

“It can become difficult to categorize everything with all of the data that the officers are collecting,” he said. 

According to the report, CPD conducted a total of 6,414 vehicle stops last year. The data shows that 3,945 of the drivers stopped were white and 2,127 were black. Of the total vehicle stops, 184 ended in no action; 105 of those drivers were white and 72 were black.

Chair member Toni Dukes Larkins said it's necessary to review this kind of data.

“It’s very important to discuss what we see in the graphs and the charts, and what might be driving that data,” Larkins said.

Larkins has been a member of the Columbia Police Chief’s Vehicle Stop Committee since its creation in 2019. Larkins said the purpose of Tuesday's meeting was to discuss no action stops between the board and the police department to understand what no action stops mean, and why they are happening. 

Larkins said since the committee was created, she has noticed a change in the way the police have conducted traffic stops.

“I want things to be better for the African American community, I want them not to feel anxiety every time they see a police officer,” Larkins said. 

Sinclair and Larkins both agree that explaining to drivers why they were stopped during the initial interaction can help ease tension during traffic stops. They feel it can also give clarity and transparency to both the driver and officer. Sinclair said it’s a tactic the department has begun teaching officers during training. 

Article Topic Follows: Columbia
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Marina Diaz

Marina is a Multimedia Journalist for ABC 17 News, she is originally from Denver, Colorado. She went to Missouri Valley College where she played lacrosse and basketball, and anchored her school’s newscast.

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