Boone County Sheriff’s deputies searched blacks and Hispanics who were pulled over during traffic stops more than whites last year, according to data the agency released Wednesday.
During 2007, deputies searched 16 percent of black drivers and 14 percent of Hispanic drivers compared to 9 percent of white drivers, according to a report the agency issued to the Missouri Attorney General’s office. State law requires agencies to report the data.
In 2006, deputies searched 15 percent of black drivers and 11 percent of Hispanic drivers compared to 10 percent of white drivers.
Boone County Sheriff Dwayne Carey attributed the disparity to a proactive approach to high-crime areas.
Last summer, the Sheriff’s Department identified problem areas based on drug intelligence, reports of shots fired, shootings and other crimes, Carey said in an interview.
The agency deployed a pair of two-person units to crack down on crime at subdivisions across the county at Clearview, Fairview Meadows and Rockbridge Estates. The units shift locations depending on where problems arise, Carey said.
The two-person units made significant warrant drug arrests, Carey said.
“We feel like the proactive approach really helped us out in the county,” Carey said.
Deputies pulled over 692 black drivers last year. They discovered contraband during 3.7 percent of the stops, and 13.5 percent of the black drivers were arrested, according to the report.
During the same time period, deputies pulled over 77 Hispanic drivers and discovered contraband during none of the stops. They arrested 10 percent of the drivers.
Deputies pulled over 3,167 white drivers. They discovered contraband during 1.6 percent of the stops, and 6.6 percent of white drivers pulled over were arrested.
The majority of blacks arrested during traffic stops were charged with traffic violations and charges relating to outstanding warrants.
For whites and Hispanics, the majority of charges were for traffic violations and driving while intoxicated.
Boone County’s population was about 84.1 percent white, 8.7 percent black and 2.4 percent Hispanic, according to a 2006 Missouri Census
Data Center report.
Mary Ratliff, president of the local chapter and state conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, voiced concerns over racial profiling and called for change in 2005 and 2006, according to Missourian archives. She could not be reached Wednesday for comment.
John Galliher, professor of sociology at MU, said institutionalized racism throughout American society, including law enforcement, causes racial profiling.
“It’s not that there is some sort of pathology at the Boone County Sheriff’s Department that is different than the pathology that exists throughout American society,” Galliher said.
Carey said the agency does not racially profile drivers. During the collection of data for the report, he checked each deputy’s traffic stop record, he said.
“I feel very comfortable in saying that we do not racially profile,” Carey said. “We have no deputy that is targeting the African-American community or targeting the Hispanic community.”
For more information on Missouri racial profiling reports, go to ago.mo.gov/racialprofiling.