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Black Drivers in Missouri 91 Percent More Likely to Be Stopped Than White Drivers

by Bill Barton

A report by Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt reveals that black motorists in that state are 91 percent more likely to be pulled over than whites. The 2018 report illuminating this statistic was released in May.

Scott Decker, an Arizona State University professor of criminology and criminal justice, one of the people who prepared the report, informed CNN that “The disparity is the highest in the 19 years the vehicle stops report has been conducted.”

African Americans comprise 10.9 percent of Missouri’s driving-age population but 19.2 percent of all traffic stops in 2018. The report examined 1,539,477 vehicle stops from 596 law enforcement agencies in the state. “People of other races — including whites, Hispanics, Asians and Native Americans — were stopped at rates ‘well below’ their portion of the driving-age population,” the report said.

“Unfortunately, the numbers have been trending this way consistently year in and year out,” St. Louis NAACP President Adolphus Pruitt said. “The state is not taking it seriously enough to try to fix this issue. Using stops as a policing tool for crime prevention needs to cease. The fact that somebody is driving in a particular area, and a police officer feels that person or individuals are out of place—that, in itself, should not justify them impeding or intruding on their lives by stopping them and searching their vehicle.”

The 2018 report was the first one that examined whether drivers lived in the area where they were pulled over. “For years, law enforcement organizations said drivers of color who were pulled over in a predominately white area could have exaggerated the racial disparities in vehicle stop data. But this report shows the artificial inflation is not as high as thought — black drivers are still being pulled over at disproportionate rates in their own communities,” CNN reports. Missouri’s 2018 report findings align with national trends. A Stanford University March 2019 study of 93 million traffic stops from around the country reported that black drivers are 20 percent more likely to get pulled over than white drivers. 

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Sources: cnn.com, ago.mo.gov

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