Twelve years ago, the state of Missouri began requiring police agencies to collect data on the race of those pulled over and arrested by police. Now a group of people and organizations including the ACLU are demanding lawmakers give the law more teeth and require more than just the submission of data.
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the ACLU has been joined by the St. Louis County Police Department, the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates, and various other local police chiefs and activists, in calling for more action from the state in combating “bias-based policing.”
Data from 2011 was recently released by the state, showing that the African-American disparity index was up slightly from 2010. The report includes information from 631 law enforcement agencies in the state including 1.6 million stops.
Hispanics were stopped at a lower rate in 2011 than in 2010, but the rate at which minority drivers are searched after being stopped is still higher than for white drivers. This despite the fact that white drivers are far more likely to be found to have contraband in their vehicles (24.42%) than Hispanic (13.51%) or African American (18.42%) drivers.
Tim Fitch, police chief of St. Louis County says that he personally requires more from his officers than a simple statement of the race of a driver. For instance, he asks them if they knew the race before they made the traffic stop. He also asks where the driver lives, concluding that the racial makeup of a patrolled community will alter the findings of a racial profiling analysis.
Last year when the annual report was released, the same sort of displeasure was found among many in the field and activists alike. The state’s methodology was called “meaningless,” “inept,” and “the most untrusted, worst method.”
Some say that not only is the data collection method flawed, but that the law doesn’t go far enough—that it should mandate something be done with the data.
If you are an African American or Hispanic person living in Missouri, it comes as no surprise that racial profiling exists. Proving that to the rest of the world, however, seems a bit trickier.
If you are facing charges and you believe you were treated unfairly by the police, you are not alone. Unfortunately, this unfair treatment doesn’t always mean illegitimate charges or a positive outcome on your case. Consulting with a local defense attorney is the best place to start when you are charged with a crime and unsure of what to do.