New statistics from Missouri show that the racial disparity in police stops, searches and arrests of drivers was higher, last year, than at any time since the year 2000, when Missouri started keeping records. Black drivers in 2014 were 75 percent more likely than whites to be stopped by police, and 73 percent more likely to be searched. In 2013, the year before a Ferguson, Missouri, cop killed Michael Brown, setting off the Black Lives Matter movement, Missouri was stopping Blacks 66 percent more often than they stopped whites. So, in Missouri, at least, the statistics tend to confirm the general impression among Black people that the police are becoming measurably more aggressive in their dealings with African Americans.
Missouri is not widely viewed as one of the more enlightened states, but it is one of only about a half dozen states that keep track of how citizens who are Driving While Black are treated on the states’ streets and highways. Missouri provides the kind of information that civil liberties lawyers in New York City had to spend years in court to force police to provide. The Missouri data show an increase in the already familiar pattern, in which Black people who are stopped are also more likely to be searched than whites who get pulled over, but that whites are almost 50 percent more likely to turn out to be carrying some kind of contraband, usually drugs. Nevertheless, at the end of the stop, Blacks were about twice as likely to be arrested as whites.