Home / Vehicle Stops Report / 2013 Executive Summary



Concerns by the citizens of Missouri and the Missouri legislature regarding allegations of racial profiling by law enforcement prompted the passage of state law Section 590.650, RSMo (2000), which was enacted Aug. 28, 2000. Racial profiling has been defined as the inappropriate use of race by law enforcement when making a decision to stop, search or arrest a motorist.

Missouri’s state law requires that all peace officers in the state report specific information including a driver’s race for each vehicle stop made in the state. Law enforcement agencies are required to turn in the data to the Attorney General, and the Attorney General is required to compile the data and report to the Governor no later than June 1 of each year. The law allows the Governor to withhold state funds for any agency that does not comply with the law. State law requires that all information be reported to the Attorney General’s Office by March 1.

The summary of statewide racial profiling data has been provided by Scott H. Decker, professor and director of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Arizona State University; Richard Rosenfeld, professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Missouri-St. Louis; and Jeffrey Rojek, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of South Carolina.

Table 1. 2013 statewide summary of results
 TotalWhiteBlackHispanicAsianAm. IndianOther
Statewide population %100%82.76%10.90%2.94%1.71%.41%1.28%
Disparity index- - -.961.
Search rate6.35%5.46%10.31%10.23%2.92%5.88%3.79%
Contraband hit rate23.92%26.31%18.85%18.04%16.44%24.24%22.07%
Arrest rate4.85%4.20%7.72%8.15%2.10%4.87%2.53%

Notes: Population figures are 2010 census estimates for persons 16 and older who designated a single race. Hispanics may be of any race. Other includes persons of mixed race and unknown race.

Disparity index = (proportion of stops / proportion of population). A value of 1 represents no disparity; values greater than 1 indicate over-representation, values less than 1 indicate under-representation.

Search rate = (searches / stops) X 100.

Contraband hit rate = (searches with contraband found / total searches) X 100.

Arrest rate = (arrests / stops) X 100.

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This report summarizes the data from 613 law enforcement agencies in Missouri for calendar year 2013. An additional 66 agencies indicated they made no traffic stops during the year. This represents 96% of the 708 law enforcement agencies in the state.

The agencies filing reports recorded a total of 1,679,565 traffic stops, resulting in 106,631 searches and 81,510 arrests. Table 1 breaks out the stops, searches and arrests by race and ethnic group. Footnote 1

Four summary indicators are included in Table 1 that may be useful in initiating further assessments of racial profiling in traffic stops. The first, termed the "disparity index,” relates each group's proportion of total traffic stops to its proportion of the driving-age population 16 years-old and older. 

A value of 1 on this index indicates that a group's proportion of traffic stops equals its population proportion: it is neither "under-represented" nor "over-represented” in traffic stops. Values above 1 indicate over-representation, and those below 1 indicate under-representation. For example, the 1,330,720 whites who were stopped accounted for 79.2% of all traffic stops in 2013.   

Whites comprise an estimated 82.8% of Missouri's driving age population. The value for whites on the disparity index is, therefore, .96 (.792/.828). Whites were stopped, in other words, at slightly below the rate expected based on their fraction of the estimated population age 16 and over. Footnote 2

The same is not the case for several of the other groups. African-Americans represent 10.90% of the population sixteen years and older but 17.32% of all traffic stops, for a value on the disparity index of 1.59. African-Americans were stopped at a rate 59% greater than expected based solely on their proportion of the population sixteen and older.

Hispanics, Asians, American Indians, and persons of mixed or unknown race were stopped at rates well below their proportion of the driving-age population. The values on the disparity index for the different groups can be compared directly to one another. For example, the likelihood that a black motorist was stopped is 1.66 times that of a white motorist (1.59/.96). In other words, blacks were 66% more likely than whites to be stopped based on their respective proportions of the Missouri driving-age population in 2013.

The disparity index is a gauge of the likelihood drivers of a given race or ethnic group are stopped based on their proportion of the residential population 16 and older, and not on the population of motorists on the state’s streets, roads and highways. A group’s share of the residential population 16 and older may or may not equal its proportion of drivers.

Although in most instances the two proportions should be close, that may not always be the case.

The extremely low DI value for American Indians, for example, could indicate that they are under-represented among the state's motorists. In addition, motorists from other states are stopped on Missouri's roadways. To the extent that out-of-state drivers do not reflect the race and ethnic composition of Missouri's population, the Disparity Index will not accurately portray the probability that Missouri residents are stopped.  

The second indicator that can be used to assess racial profiling is the “search rate,” or the number of searches divided by the number of stops (x 100). (Searches include searches of drivers or property in the vehicle.)

The search rate for all motorists who were stopped is 6.35%. Asians were searched at a rate well below the statewide average; Blacks and Hispanics were searched at rates above the average for all motorists who were stopped.

The search rate for the different groups also can be compared directly with one another. Blacks were 1.89 times more likely to be searched than whites (10.31/5.46). Hispanics were 1.87 times more likely than whites to be searched (10.23/5.46).

The reasons for conducting a search and the outcome of the search (i.e., discovery of contraband) should be considered when making comparisons across groups. 

Some searches are conducted with the consent of the driver, or because the officer observed suspected contraband in plain view, had reasonable suspicion that an individual may possess a weapon (Terry search), or other reasons. These searches may or may not result in an arrest.

Other searches are conducted incident to arrest, which means there is no other reason given for the search other than arrest. Searches are almost always performed when there is an outstanding arrest warrant, whether or not contraband may be present.

The third summary indicator, the “contraband hit rate,” reflects the percentage of searches in which contraband is found. Contraband was found in 23.92% of all searches that were conducted in 2013. There is considerable variation, however, in the contraband hit rate across race and ethnic groups.

The contraband hit rate for whites was 26.31%, compared with 18.85% for Blacks and 18.04% for Hispanics. This means that on average searches of Blacks and Hispanics are less likely than searches of whites to result in the discovery of contraband. This difference may result in part from the higher arrest rates for blacks and Hispanics, circumstances that compel a search. 

The “arrest rate” is the fourth summary indicator included in Table 1 that may be useful for assessing racial profiling. Just under 5% of all traffic stops resulted in an arrest (81,510/1,679,565). The probability of arrest varies across the race and ethnic groups.

Roughly 8 of every 100 stops of the stops of African-Americans and Hispanics resulted in arrest, compared with 4.20% of the stops of whites. African-Americans and Hispanics are searched more often than whites, but they are arrested more often as well.

There are two Appendices to this year’s full report. Appendix A presents the traffic stop analysis using the statewide proportions of race and ethnicity, rather than those for each jurisdiction.

This year’s report compares the 2013 disparity index to the disparity index for 2000 through 2012. These comparisons are presented in Appendix B.

For each agency, the disparity index for each race-ethnic group is presented for the years 2000-2013. For the state as a whole, the key indicators generally show small changes between 2012 and 2013.

A reasoned determination of the existence of racial profiling in a community requires a comprehensive evaluation of the full range of information compiled in the agency reports. This brief summary of selected indicators for the state as a whole is intended to stimulate those local evaluations and dialogue.

Table 2. Agencies that did not submit reports as required by state law
Bates City Police DepartmentBirch Tree Police DepartmentBNSF Railway Police
Camden Point Police DepartmentCatron Police DepartmentEdgerton Police Department
Everton Police Department Farber Police DepartmentFlorissant Valley Community College
Howard County Sheriff's DepartmentHuntsville Police DepartmentIndian Point Police Department
Iron Mountain Lake Police DepartmentJennings Police DepartmentKimmswick Police Department
Kinloch Police DepartmentLake Lafayette Police DepartmentLowry City Police Department
Miller Police DepartmentMirmiguoa Police DepartmentNew Melle Police Department
Oran Police DepartmentStewartsville Police DepartmentUplands Park Police Department
Urbana Police Department Wellston Police Department 

Table 3. Agencies that submitted incomplete reports
Malden Police DepartmentSt. Louis Park RangersLockwood Police Department

Table 4. Agencies that reported no stops (many contract out vehicle stops to other agencies)
Altenburg Police DepartmentAtlanta Police DepartmentBell City Police Department
Berger Police DepartmentBevier Police DepartmentBirmingham Police Department
Bland Police DepartmentBull Creek Village Police DepartmentBunker Police Department
Centerview Police DepartmentChilhowee Police DepartmentClarksdale Police Department
Clarkson Valley Police DepartmentCool Valley Police DepartmentCooter Police Department
Cowgill Police DepartmentDeepwater Police DepartmentDellwood Police Department
Dudley Police DepartmentEast Lynne Police DepartmentEaston Police Department
Eolia Police DepartmentFairfax Police DepartmentFisk Police Department
Flordell Police DepartmentForest City Police DepartmentGainesville Police Department
Gilman City Police DepartmentGolden City Police DepartmentGrant City Police Department
Hale Police DepartmentHigbee Police DepartmentHolland Police Department
Irondale Police DepartmentJackson County Drug Task ForceKeytesville Police Department
Laddonia Police DepartmentLake Annette Police DepartmentMarquand Police Department
Mayview Police Department Meramec College Police DepartmentMissouri Department of Revenue 
Mokane Police Department Montrose Police Department Naylor Police Department 
Neelyville Police Department Norfolk Southern Railway Police Novinger Police Department 
Olympian Village Police Department Otterville Police Department Pasadena Park Police Department 
Shelbyville Police Department Sheldon Police Department St. George Police Department 
Sycamore Hills Police Department Tallapoosa Police Department Taos Police Department 
Theodosia Police Department Union Star Police Department  Walker Police Department 
Wardsville Police Department Westwood Police Department Wildwood Police Department 
Windsor Police Department Wyatt Police Department  

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Fourteen years ago Missouri released its first report on vehicle stop data. This report represents the thirteenth annual analysis of vehicle stop data in Missouri, a review that includes information about 1,679,565 million stops by law enforcement in the state during 2013. The report can be compared to data going back to 2000 online.  

The analysis in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 used census estimates to reflect the changes in Missouri’s population since the 2000 census. That census was the benchmark for the previous five reports. The 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 analysis used census estimates from the 2010 census.  

As our state’s population changes in number and demographics, these census estimates can help provide a more accurate benchmark to analyze the data.

The overall number of stops reported increased in 2013. As it has in the past, the disparity index for African-American drivers continues to be of significant concern. The disparity index for African- American drivers increased slightly from 1.57 in 2012 to 1.59 in 2013. The disparity index for Hispanic drivers also increased slightly from .60 in 2012 to .61 in 2013. Both groups continue to have search rates significantly higher than that of white drivers.

These findings continue a disturbing trend for African-American drivers in Missouri. The disparity index for African-American drivers has increased in eleven of the last fourteen years, with only slight drops three times: to 1.34 in 2004 from 1.36 in 2003, to 1.61 in 2010 from 1.62 in 2009 and to 1.57 in 2012 from 1.63 in 2011. The 2013 disparity rate of 1.59 compares to a rate of 1.27 fourteen years ago. African-American drivers were 66 percent more likely than white drivers to be stopped based on the proportion of driving-age population in 2013, compared to 30 percent more likely than white drivers in 2000.

With 613 law enforcement agencies conducting vehicle stops in Missouri, there is no single explanation why these disparities exist. This report provides statistical information so the data from each agency can be examined, and appropriate questions asked of those agencies.

In 2004, state law was changed to require law enforcement to include investigative vehicle stops in their reports, in addition to the stops for traffic violations.

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. It is vital that Missouri law enforcement agencies continue to review the rates of stops and searches and to continue their outreach efforts.

While statistical disproportion does not prove that law enforcement officers are making vehicle stops based on the perceived race or ethnicity of the driver, the compilation and analysis of data provides both law enforcement and the community with a starting point for dialogue to appreciate each other’s perspective and arrive at common ground.

I am proud that Missouri took a leading role, under the stewardship of then-Attorney General Nixon, Governor Carnahan and many in the legislature, in passing legislation requiring the collection and examination of vehicle stop data on this scale. I pledge to continue that tradition in carrying on the detailed and critical examination necessary to ensure fairness to Missouri’s law enforcement application. It is my hope that this report may serve as a springboard to open dialogue and legislative review.

We continue to show that commitment through laws that require each law enforcement agency not only to have a written policy regarding racial profiling, but also to provide additional training to officers and to promote the use of effective, non-combative methods for carrying out their duties in a racially and culturally diverse environment.

Missouri’s law enforcement members continue to do commendable work in the face of many challenges. I appreciate their efforts and willingness to compile the information for these annual reports.

The number of agencies that did not comply with the vehicle stops reporting law in 2013 increased to 26. This represents a slight increase from 2012 when 23 departments failed to report. Failure to report is unacceptable and should be considered so by the General Assembly. A list of these agencies has been turned over to the Governor for imposition of the statutory sanctions.

Along with the data, several individual law enforcement agencies provided other information about factors that may impact their numbers. The reader should consider these factors when examining the data.

Law-abiding drivers have the right to travel throughout Missouri without the fear that they will be stopped based solely on their race or ethnicity. I am confident that Missourians of all races and ethnic groups and law enforcement officers from throughout the state agree with me.

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Footnote 1: Hispanics may be of any race. About 1 percent of the population designated two or more races. These persons are included in the “other” category along with persons of unknown race.

Footnote 2: The population totals in the table are from the 2010 Census.

Footnote 3: Caution should be used when comparing 2000 to subsequent years, especially for smaller agencies, because the 2000 figures are based on only four months of traffic data, while those for subsequent years are based on the full calendar year.

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