A report from the Missouri Attorney General’s office and pressure from local activists have prompted the Columbia Police Department to hold a town hall on racial profiling in the city.
The report says that black drivers are three times overrepresented in traffic stops in Columbia. They make up 9.9 percent of drivers, but represent 29.5 percent of traffic stops. In contrast, white drivers comprise 79.7 percent of drivers and 65.1 percent of stops.
The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. on Jan. 30 in Conference Room 1A/1B at City Hall.
The activist group Race Matters, Friends has drawn attention to the issue but has been frustrated by CPD Chief Burton’s response to the report. During a July town hall meeting, RMF members walked out after Burton said racial profiling did not exist within the department.
“I think I said pretty loudly that I didn’t believe that Columbia officers racially profile,” Burton said in a Jan. 11 Columbia Missourian article. “I’ve always recognized that there was a possibility, but there is no evidence that we’ve been able to see.”
Members of RMF said CPD did not coordinate with them to plan the town hall or alert them of the meeting ahead of time.
“They are simply, in my opinion, resisting being held accountable by doing piecemeal things and window dressing,” RMF president Traci Wilson-Kleekamp said in a January interview with The Maneater.