CPD releases racial profiling numbers

Black people were arrested more, but stopped less.
Megan Stroup / Graphic Designer

The Columbia Police Department released its racial profiling statistics for Columbia in 2008.

The statistics showed white people were stopped more often in traffic stops, but cars with black people were searched more often, and arrested more.

White people were stopped 12,268 times and black people were stopped 3,914 times, the statistics stated. White people were arrested 116 times in 2008 and black people were arrested 156 times.

CPD Capt. Tom Dresner, the interim police chief when the statistics were compiled, said the department doesn't condone racial profiling but it isn't releasing these numbers to try to convince the public racial profiling isn't happening.

Dresner said there is a perceptual fine line between profiling and good police work. He said if police work is done wrong and cars are stopped and searched based on prejudices, often nothing will be found in the search. But Dresner said if officers are searching cars based on probable cause, they are doing good police work.

Dresner said the numbers for 2008 reflect good police work.

Local attorney Dan Viets, president of the Mid-Missouri American Civil Liberties Union, said the police department focuses its efforts in black neighborhoods and chooses to stop black people.

Viets said police generally try to go after black people.

"There is an assumption that black people are more likely to break the law," Viets said.

In 2008, 14 white people were arrested for robbery and 60 black people were arrested for robbery. Of the 74 who were arrested, 52 were men and 22 were women, the statistics stated.

There were 12,268 white people and 3,914 black people stopped during traffic stops in 2008. According to the statistics, 704 white people were searched and 747 black people were searched.

Viets said concerns about racial profiling in the department have been brought up for years and he hopes the Citizen Oversight Committee will investigate these numbers more.

Dresner said there is more than meets the eye to the numbers.

"We stop more white drivers because there is a larger percentage of white drivers in Columbia," Dresner said.

He said the department has been doing this report for eight years and he said the numbers generally look pretty similar.

Hispanic people have not been counted as a separate race in these statistics because it is not required for the Uniform Crime Report. Dresner said the department wants to count Hispanic as a separate race next year but he doesn't know what impact that will have on the numbers.

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