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Few penalties for delaying racial data

Friday, May 28, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:53 a.m. CDT, Sunday, June 29, 2008

Missouri’s laws on collecting racial profiling data are among the most comprehensive in the country, yet the penalties for noncompliance are almost nonexistent.

The state has the power to withhold funds from law enforcement agencies that do not file their data on time.

In 2003, Attorney General Jay Nixon received reports from 616 law enforcement agencies, as required by state law. Nixon’s office said 56 agencies did not meet the reporting deadlines contained in the law. The list of noncompliant agencies will be sent to Gov. Bob Holden.

A year ago, the Missouri Department of Public Safety withheld less than $7,200 from 17 agencies that failed to meet the data collection deadline. Scott Holste, press secretary for the attorney general’s office, said amounts withheld from individual agencies ranged from $154 to $500.

In 2003, a new component of the law took effect, requiring Missouri law enforcement officers with the authority to enforce traffic laws to take one hour per year of training on racial profiling.

Columbia Police Chief Randy Boehm said the city’s requirements go well beyond the state’s, and no Columbia police officers have been disciplined for racial profiling.

“Every other year, we have a mandatory eight-hour training session on racial profiling issues,” Boehm said.

Missouri state laws require every law enforcement agency in the state to have a written policy regarding racial profiling. Boehm confirmed that Columbia police have such a statement and that it expressly prohibits racial profiling.

A new bill, awaiting action by Holden, would modify the state’s data collection laws. Currently, officers must complete a racial profile report if they stop a vehicle for a violation. The new act would require officers to complete the report for any traffic stop, regardless of the reason.


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