Vehicle Stops Report
Every time an SPD officer stops a driver, they are required to report the details about the stop using an SPD-created Vehicle Stop Racial Profiling (VSRP) form. In 2020 the VSRP was updated to include 15 required questions from the Missouri Attorney General’s Office as well as an additional 10 questions required by SPD policy. Some of the requested information includes the reason, location, and outcome of the stop, whether or not a search was conducted, driver information (age, race, gender), and if the officer was able to identify the driver’s race prior to the stop. After this information is collected, we submit it to the Missouri Attorney General’s Office where it becomes publicly accessible.
As recommended by the Attorney General, we also take a deeper dive into the numbers internally. After receiving data from officers in the field, we use a nationally-recognized mathematical formula to determine the “binomial probability,” which shows the possibility that racial profiling exists for a specific officer. If any officers are shown to have a potential for bias while conducting traffic stops, we then take a second look at the circumstances surrounding that officer and all their stops. The officer is then interviewed by their direct supervisor, who completes a report documenting their findings, which are reviewed by the officer’s chain of command. Chief Williams reviews all the information and determines if further action (I.e. training, discipline) should be taken.
After the yearly analysis is completed, Chief Williams meets with minority leaders in the community, historically with the Springfield NAACP, to share the results of the review and talk about action steps for moving forward.
SPD, at the request of the NAACP, has also employed Dr. Michael Stout a third-party, unbiased researcher to comb through the data and compile a report that summarizes findings pertaining to racial disparities in traffic stops, vehicle searches, driver arrests, and contraband seized. That information can be accessed here.
Every step of this process, from our training techniques to our early intervention system, is taken very seriously at the highest levels of the department. We understand our community’s concern and we hope that by opening the lines of communication, we can show our citizens that we are allies and want to unite in our efforts to help our community feel safe and free from bias in police decision making.