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Mixed Reviews on Racial Profiling Traffic Report

Officials with the Springfield Police Department say they take the new data on racial profiling very seriously.

Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster released the 2009 Vehicle Stops Report earlier this week and the Springfield Police Department will soon be looking at the report to evaluate its enforcement efforts.

Major Kevin Routh of the Springfield Police says the department collects more information than what is required by the state of Missouri on every traffic stop in order to gain more insight into any potential problems.

The police department also has an early warning system in place that, if triggered, requires an in-depth review by the supervisors. Routh discusses the early warning system:

“It’s a system that we try to monitor these numbers in-house. We take this issue very seriously so we monitor them on a pretty frequent basis where the system automatically flags if there’s an officer that the disparity index is starting to rise that flags and causes an investigation by a supervisor.”

Though the report is taken seriously, Greene County Sheriff Jim Arnott says it has several holes in it. Among the problems, he says in the last five years, the population data used in the report is based on the 2000 census.

He also pointed out that out-of-state travelers and illegal immigrants skew the data because they are not included in the population data.

Sheriff Arnott says that he feels very strongly that there is no problem with racial profiling in Greene County.

“I think it’s a bad report all the way around. I don’t think I would even get through, if I used this as a piece of evidence, going to court, I wouldn’t even get through the preliminary hearing with it," Arnott says.

Both Major Routh and Sheriff Arnott saw the population data as a problem in the report. They both also point out that most of the time, officers can’t identify the race of the driver until they are actually approaching the vehicle.

For KSMU News, I'm Ryan Welch.