Annual report of Missouri vehicle stops shows little change

Local News

Mo. — The Missouri Vehicle Stops 2020 Annual Report is showing black drivers are more likely to be stopped by police than drivers of any other race.

Data from the report is a summarization of 590 law enforcement agencies in Missouri. All police officers in the state are required to report a driver’s race for every car stop they make.

The report shows a measure called a “disparity index,” which measures a group’s traffic stops compared to their population. If the disparity index is one, then the group is represented equally in traffic stops.

According to the data, the only groups who don’t have a one on the index are Black and Hispanic.

Compared to 2019, the number did go down from 1.79 to 1.63, but black people’s disparity index has been consistently above 1 for the past 20 years.

Cheryl Clay, with the Springfield NAACP, said it is too soon to make a determination about the numbers that just came out on June 1.

“It’s hard to put a handle on these numbers, it’s a lot of factors in play, other than just the numbers, are the officers working a gang task force? are they in a specific neighborhood? so we really drill down the numbers and it’s too soon to make a determination about this year’s numbers,” said Clay.

Missouri, according to Clay, is the only state in the country where the civil rights organization is issued a traffic advisory.

The chief of the Springfield Police Department was unable to comment, but did speak about disparity numbers in Springfield back in January of 2021.

“Realizing of course, disparity does not equal discrimination, I don’t want people to jump to that conclusion,” said Chief Paul Williams, with the Springfield Police Department. “But we all know that it appears the numbers are higher than they should be, based on our population.”

Clay said the advisory hasn’t sparked much of a change.

“It’s actually cautioning people of color to basically not travel across the state,” said Clay. “And part of the reasoning is this traffic data report that comes out every year. And that travel advisory is very much still in effect. There has been no noticeable move of the needle across the state of Missouri.”

To view the full Missouri Vehicle Stops 2020 Annual Report, click here.

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