I have updated the table to add each department’s ticketing percentage.
Since police departments in St. Louis County are under the microscope in the aftermath of events in Ferguson, I thought I would take a look at police departments here in Jefferson County. One way we can do that is through the state attorney general’s office and its vehicle stops reports.
The “Disparity Index” measures the likelihood that drivers of a given race or ethnic group are stopped based on their proportion of the residential population age 16 and over. Values greater than 1 indicate over-representation and values less that 1 indicate under-representation in traffic stops. Here’s what those numbers are for JeffCo departments:
Disparity index for black drivers, 2013
- Arnold 9.22
- Byrnes Mill 4.52
- Crystal City 1.74
- DeSoto 1.77
- Festus 1.02
- Herculaneum 3.20
- Hillsboro 0.56
- JeffCo Sheriff 2.81
- Kimmswick No data
- Olympian Village No data
- Pevely 4.75
Statewide, the disparity index for black drivers in 2013 was 1.59. Arnold gets hurt because its black population is only 0.5%, but blacks made up 5% of stops. Arnold’s full report is here, and it breaks down reasons for stops and goes into searches as well. Arnold’s search rates, the percentage of stops during which searches were conducted, were as follows. The Hispanic rates were based on a total of only 10 stops of Hispanic drivers in all of 2013.
2013 search rate: White – 4.5%, Black – 10%, Hispanic – 80% (percentage of people stopped who were searched)
Contraband hit rate: White – 20.5%, Black – 16.7%, Hispanic – 0% (percentage of searches that found contraband)
Arrest rate: White – 3.6%, Black – 8.1%, Hispanic – 60% (percentage of stops that led to arrests)
For comparison, here are Ferguson’s stats (Ferguson is 63% black):
2013 search rate: White – 6.9%, Black – 12.1%, Hispanic – 4.6% (based on 22 stops)
Contraband hit rate: White – 34%, Black – 21.7%, Hispanic – 0%
Arrest rate: White – 5.3%, Black – 10.4%, Hispanic – 4.6%
Tickets and Arrests
I also looked at the number of stops and arrests for each city. This table includes traffic stops in 2013, population of those 16 years of age and older in each city, and the number of arrests in 2013 (as I understand it, these are only arrests that occur during traffic stops). I divided stops and arrests by the population to acquire rates of stops and arrests per person, to get an idea of how aggressive each department is in pulling people over, and how much crime they are encountering.
As you can see, Pevely had the highest rate of stops, which is not surprising given Pevely’s ticket-happy reputation. Herculaneum was really high, too. Byrnes Mill was perhaps lower than one might have expected, with its reputation. As for arrests, Byrnes Mill had the highest rate. That city’s AG report indicates only one DWI arrest, which is interesting given that the city seems to hold a lot of DWI checkpoints. The number one arrest charge there was “property offense.” I’m not sure how one gets arrested for a property offense on a traffic stop (“outstanding warrant” is a separate charge). Interestingly, the entities with the most total arrests, the Sheriff’s Office and Arnold, had only six and five property offense arrests, respectively.
Update: Pevely also led the way in percentage of stops that resulted in tickets, with 94%. You probably aren’t getting away with a warning in Pevely, or Hillsboro, which ticketed 92% of the time in 2013. Crystal City, De Soto, Festus, and Herculaneum all gave tickets about half the time.
There is also some data from the state on JeffCo’s municipal courts. I hope to take a look at those numbers in a future post.