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Politics

Racial Profiling Data Available on the Web

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http://ozarkspub.vo.llnwd.net/o37/KSMU/audio/mp3/racialprof_6721.mp3

A new website gives Missourians access to ten year’s worth of data on racial profiling. KSMU’s Missy Shelton reports.

Racial Profiling Data for Missouri Law Enforcement Agencies, 2000-2009

Statistics show that last year, African-American drivers were 70 percent more likely to get pulled over than white drivers. That’s just one part of the data that’s now available to the public online. Racial profiling data from the last ten years is on the web. At a press conference in Springfield, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster showed reporters the new site.

Koster says, “I’d like to kind of walk through some of the new elements of the website…”

The website lets you search the data by year, region, agency, and race of drivers. One measure is the so-called “disparity index,” which takes into account how many drivers of a particular race are stopped and compares that number to the racial make-up of the local population. Koster says it’s difficult to pinpoint which kind of agency is most likely to have problems.

Koster says, “A lot of times there’s no rhyme or reason to where these these high disparity indexes are coming from. There are rural departments that have good numbers and numbers that are very much in line across the state. And there are sophisticated urban departments that certainly have the resources to manage to this issue and train around it that have numbers that certainly would give good-hearted Missourians cause for concern.”

The state law mandating the attorney general to collect and make public this data does not provide an accountability measure for law enforcement agencies that appear to have problems with racial profiling. Koster says this latest round of data may point to a need for state lawmakers to revisit the issue.

Koster says, “I think there are some elements that the legislature could go back and provide either encouragement or some other method where we know that the agencies are managing toward this issue and reviewing it on an annual level. And my hope is that the legislature today’s report as a catalyst to start that discussion.”

If you’d like to see racial profiling data going back to 2000, we have a link to that information on our website, KSMU.org.