Driving While Black: Attorney General's report says black drivers more likely to be pulled over than whites

6:17 PM, Jun 1, 2010   |    comments
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Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster.

By Leisa Zigman

KSDK -- It's called DWB or "driving while black." Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster released the 10th annual report on vehicle stops. It shows African-American drivers are stopped at increasingly higher rates than white or Hispanic drivers.

Click here to read the report

Koster insists the disparity does not mean police departments are racially profiling drivers, but adds the data raises serious red flags that city leaders and citizens should question.

"In the state of Missouri, if you are African-American you are 70 percent more likely to be pulled over than if you are Caucasian," Koster said. "In the city of Ladue, you are 1,700 percent more likely to be pulled over than if you were Caucasian."

Koster's office examined 1.7 million stops by 642 law enforcement agencies in 2009. Ten years ago, African- Americans were 30 percent more likely to get pulled over than whites. Koster noted the sharp increase over the past decade to 70 percent.

In terms of mid to large police departments, Ladue showed the greatest disparity.

"The Ladue data is concerning. It would be appropriate for Ladue officials to conduct a review as is required by the statute," Koster said.

Officials in the city of Ladue issued a statement Tuesday, saying in part, "The City of Ladue does not racially profile and any suggestion to the contrary is highly unfair to the professional police officers of our city...The City of Ladue has consistently pointed out to this attorney general and his predecessor that any statistical analysis of traffic stops that is based solely on Ladue's population and does not consider the racial makeup of the drivers who pass through Ladue is contrary to the science of statistical analysis."

"What I am opposed to is the way the disparity index is being figured," said Ladue Police Chief Rich Wooten. "Since the inception of the report, there has been no consensus or agreement how to figure the disparity index."

Chief Wooten's predecessor, Larry White, is suing Ladue for allegedly firing him when he refused to crack down on black drivers.

"They don't want those people in the City of Ladue," said Chet Pleban, White's attorney. "So they want to send a message and the message is if you travel through Ladue to North County via 170 or are going to the city via I-64, we want to make sure you don't come back here.

KSDK

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