COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Black drivers in Missouri were pulled over at a higher rate based on their percentage in the population again in 2022, according to the state's annual Vehicle Stops Report released Thursday.
In 2022, law enforcement agencies that filed reports recorded 1,273,509 vehicle stops, resulting in 75,014 searches and 49,122 arrests. The racial disparity of Black drivers pulled over was once again higher than white, Hispanic, native American and Asian drivers.
In Columbia, police stopped 3,055 white drivers compared to 2,007 Black drivers, 167 Hispanic drivers and 91 Asian drivers.
However, based on the percentage of the population by race in Missouri, Black drivers were stopped at a rate of 18.25, which was by far the highest of any group. White drivers only had a stop rate of 3.8 while Hispanics and Asians had stop rates of 4.65 and 1.42, respectively.
The disparity index for Black drivers in Missouri decreased slightly from 2021 while the number for white, Hispanic and Asian increased. The numbers also showed that Black drivers away from home are more likely to be stopped.
In Columbia, the disparity index for black drivers increased and was tied for the highest total since 2000 at 3.51. The disparity index in Columbia also increased for Hispanic and Asian drivers while it decreased for white drivers.
Don Love studies the data each year.
He says he noticed that the Columbia Police Department does not have a high stop rate for black drivers compared to other police agencies in the state.
“The reason the disproportion is so high, four times for white drivers, isn’t because Blacks are being stopped excessively compared to other agencies. It’s just white drivers are never stopped at all,” Love said.
Love added the issue stems from officers targeting Black drivers more on minor violations that white drivers tend to get away with. Consent searches are one of the key numbers in the data because officers do not need to have reasonable suspicion or probable cause.
The data did show that the number of consent searches went down in 2022. The Columbia Police Department had a very high consent search number for Black drivers in 2015. Black drivers were subjected to consent searches at twice the rate of white drivers. However white drivers were found to have more contraband.
Since then the department required all officers to read drivers their rights and the number of consent searches statewide has begun to go down. Across the state, the number of consent searches used on white drivers is up for the fourth straight year.
Love believes that this is further proof that drivers were being racially stereotyped in consent searches.
A number of chiefs across the state talk to Love to go over the data and try to find solutions in some of the concerning numbers, Love said. Columbia’s Police Chief Geoff Jones is one of them.
“He’s not always pleased with what I say," Love said. "I’m pretty blunt when I see something that I think ought to be done differently. But on the other hand, I’m quite willing to give him credit for doing much more than I see any other chief across the state doing.”
The City of Columbia also has an advisory committee that goes over traffic stop data and makes recommendations.
"I think the chief listens and I think the chief is very transparent about recommendations that are given and whether or not they can or cannot be implemented and why if they can not," Chris Horn a member of the committee told ABC 17.
The state first began keeping track of this data in 2000 after concerns by Missouri citizens and the General Assembly that accused police of a bias in traffic enforcement.
The Columbia Police Department has not respond to interview requests related to the report.