Report reveals disparity in use of force, traffic stops in Saint-Louis


Blacks have been subjected to the use of force four times more often than whites each year by the Saint-Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) from 2012 to 2019, according to a new report.

Use of force incidents, which were largely unarmed or involved a tasers, decreased by more than 18 percent during the reporting period, while pedestrian stops decreased by 82 percent. There was also a great disparity in roadside checks by law enforcement: Black residents accounted for 65% of vehicle stops – more than double the rate faced by white motorists – and were subjected to road stops. pedestrians at the same rate over the seven-year period. .

The report was part of the Center for Policing Equity (CPE) National Justice Database project, which tracks data on police behavior across the country. The group began working with the city to reform public safety in 2016 following the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, working with the Ministry of Public Security, the Violence Prevention Commission and Forward Through Ferguson.

SLMPD chief John Hayden said the ministry would use the data to improve transparency and accountability.

“As accountability has been one of the pillars of my administration, I believe we have made great strides over the past four years to ensure that our ministry serves our community fairly and equitably,” said Hayden. “It is understandable that this type of research could lead to scrutiny and question police practices. However, we take up the challenge to do better and take into account all the suggestions of professionals, community actors and citizens. “

Dr Tracie Keesee, co-founder of CPE and senior vice president of Justice Initiatives, said the report showed overall improvements and the need for further action, which the mayor of St. Louis Tishaura Jones said she was ready to undertake.

“These are important conversations for St. Louis, and I look forward to continuing to partner with CPE and our city leaders to engage with this important and insightful data,” Jones said. “From 911 data to our policing policies and practices, it is our duty to learn from the past to shape a better, safer and more equitable future. “

The St. Louis community was encouraged to share their comments in a virtual town hall with CPE, Jones and other leaders on September 23.

Disparity has been a concern across the state in recent years; the Attorney General’s Office has compiled its annual report on vehicle stops since 2000, examining rates of stops, arrests and research by demographic group across the state. The disparity reached an all-time high in 2018 when black motorists were 91 percent more likely being stopped by law enforcement as white drivers.

The rate decreased the following year and in 2020 – at the same time as a decrease in overall shutdowns – with black motorists stopped 1.5 times more often than white drivers across the state.

Legislators called for action to address the disparity in the wake of the 2018 Vehicle Stoppages Report, and talks about the use of force by law enforcement reignited last year after George Floyd’s death at the hands of a policeman in Minneapolis. Missouri Standards and training of peace officers (POST) passed several new policies last year, including adding the history of minority policing and implicit bias training to the academy’s curriculum.

In addition, a bipartite state law the ban on the use of chokes among a host of law enforcement and criminal justice reforms came into effect last month.

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