In Columbia, African Americans made up 20 percent of the traffic stops conducted by police, yet they make up only 10 percent of the population. What’s more, Columbia police officers are three times more likely to try to search the car of a black driver than a white driver.
By Chris McDaniel (Columbia, Mo.)
Over 30 people gathered Tuesday night to discuss racial profiling by police departments in Columbia and throughout the state. The attorney general’s numbers didn’t come as a shock to Mary Ratliff of the NAACP.
“We don’t want racial profiling data to prove that we aren’t doing things correctly in the police department,” said Rafliff. “You know, it really starts with the police chief.”
“The racial profiling law doesn’t go far enough,” said Police Chief Ken Burton. “It should be asking me, as a police chief, ‘Why is that, Chief?’”
His police department has been working with a number of organizations to host these discussions on racial profiling. Citizens agreed that if racial profiling is going to be curbed in Columbia, there has to be a change in the culture of the department. Although not many solutions were presented in this meeting, Chief Burton will host police training on how to avoid racial profiling in December and invited the public to attend. Both of the people conducting the training are white males. That concerned some of the citizens at the meeting.
Chief Burton plans to host more meetings in October to discuss the steps his department is taking to reduce profiling.