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Local lawmen: Traffic stop rates reflect local population

June 2, 2015 at 4:00 a.m. | Updated June 2, 2015 at 4:00 a.m.

The Capital City's black population hovers around 11 percent, but the rate at which black drivers are pulled over is more than double that figure, according to the latest numbers from the Missouri Attorney General's racial disparity vehicle-stop report.

For the state, the attorney general says the disparity index for black drivers edged up to a record highs. But local law enforcement officials say the percentages of stops in the area more closely reflects the region's population.

Officials submitted the local numbers to Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster's office at the beginning of March.

Updated 2013 U.S. Census figures, Jefferson City's population was 78 percent white, 16.9 percent black and 2 percent Hispanic.

In 2014, the Jefferson City Police Department made 13,115 traffic stops with 9,868 involving white drivers (75.2 percent), 3,011 black drivers (23

percent) and 63 Hispanic drivers (.5 percent).

Of the 515 arrests made from those stops, 263 of those were white drivers (51 percent), 248 were black (48.1 percent) and three arrests were Hispanic drivers (.6 percent).

"We are very much aware of the governing statute and the legislative purpose behind its adoption," said Jefferson City Police Chief Roger Schroeder. "The division commanders conduct an annual review of the statistical data. We use this as an opportunity to remind everyone of their individual responsibility to enforce the various laws in a fair and equitable manner. If an officer is determined to stop vehicles at a racially disproportionate rate, that officer is counseled. The process is documented to demonstrate compliance with the statute and to affirm our organizational commitment to fairly police our community."

The outcomes of the stops made by Jefferson City police resulted in 6,278 citations issued and 6,764 warnings given out.

More males (7,141) were pulled over than females (5,974).

The majority of the stops involved drivers who were 18-29 years old.

Cole County's population was 84.6 percent white, nearly 11 percent black and nearly 2 percent Hispanic in 2010.

For the Cole County Sheriff's Department, there were 2,763 stops made by deputies in 2014 involving 2,395 white drivers (86.7 percent), 295 black drivers (10.7 percent) and 45 Hispanic drivers (1.6 percent).

"I think, simply put, the results balance out real well," Cole County Sheriff Greg White said.

Of the 182 arrests deputies made in 2014, 138 were white drivers (75.8 percent), 27 were black drivers (14.8 percent) and five were Hispanic drivers (.3 percent).

When deputies made stops, 380 resulted in a citation being issued and 2,370 warnings were given out.

There were 1,674 males stopped and 1,089 females. Most were between the ages of 18-29.

Schroeder said conclusions should not be drawn from data generated in "this relatively superficial way.

"The requirement does, however, serve as an important reminder of the critical obligation law enforcement agencies have to their community members to uniformly serve and protect without regard to race or ethnicity," he said.

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