JEFFERSON CITY, Missouri — An annual state report released on Friday showed that black motorists were more likely to be pulled over and arrested during traffic stops by Missouri law enforcement last year, continuing a decade-long trend.
The report, released by Attorney General Chris Koster, showed that in 2012, black drivers were 62 percent more likely to be pulled over than white drivers in Missouri. In 2011, that figure was 72 percent; the decrease was only the third time in the report's 13-year history. However, proportionally speaking, black motorists were stopped 56 percent more than other races of drivers.
The statistics compare the racial breakdown of the state's driving population to the racial composition of drivers in roughly 1.6 million traffic stops made this year by 616 Missouri law enforcement agencies.
Koster, a Democrat, said the disparity measure is not conclusive evidence of racial profiling.
The report's results have largely remained the same over the past decade, showing that black drivers are pulled over at a disproportionate rate.
"One of the best uses of these reports is as a springboard for dialogue and communication between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve," Koster said in a written statement — the same he used in the 2011 report. "It is vital the Missouri law enforcement agencies continue to review the rate of stops and searches and to continue outreach efforts."
Because the report is based on various racial and ethnic groups' share of Missouri's population, it doesn't account for factors such as crime patterns or the location of a highway in a given region. Out-of-state drivers who may not reflect the race and ethnic composition of Missouri's population are also included in the report.
The report also examines the racial disparity when vehicles were searched and arrests were made. There were 104,000 vehicles searched last year and 23 percent of those searches produced contraband. Black drivers were more likely to be searched than white motorists, but less likely to be found with contraband, according to the report.
Hispanics were less likely to be pulled over than white drivers but more likely to be searched. About 11 percent of Hispanic motorists were searched at traffic stops, although contraband was less likely to be found compared to white drivers.
Roughly 5 percent of all traffic stops resulted in an arrest, but 8 percent of traffic stops involving black drivers resulted in an arrest. Only 4 percent of white motorists were arrested at traffic stops.
Missouri became the first state to publish a report examining racial disparity at traffic stops in 2001.