The number of custodial arrests where a municipal violation is the highest new charge per 1,000 adult residents in the City of St. Louis
A black person is more than twice as likely to be arrested for municipal violations as a white person.
A score of 100 represents racial equity, meaning there are no racial disparities in outcomes. The lower the Equity Score, the greater the disparity.
For Municipal Arrests, a score of 100 — a score reflecting racial equity — would mean black and white residents are equally likely to be arrested for municipal violations. It is important to note that for this indicator, racial equity is not our only goal: we also want to improve outcomes for all.
What does this indicator measure?
Municipal Arrests measures the number of custodial arrests where a municipal violation is the highest new charge per 1,000 adult residents in the City of St. Louis. Municipal violations include crimes like driving citations, code violations, and conduct violations such as failure to comply with municipal officers. In 2016, there were 2,528 municipal arrests made by St. Louis police, for a rate of 10.1 per 1,000 adults.
Municipal Arrests analysis
Arrests for which a municipal violation is the highest charge per 1,000 adult residents in St. Louis City.
|All||Black||White||Disparity Ratio||Equity Score|
|Municipal arrests per 1,000 adults||10.1||15.1||6.9||2.204 to 1||39|
Data Source: St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department, with preliminary analysis by Dr. Lee Slocum, UMSL, 2016; American Community Survey 1-year estimates, 2016.
Data Note: There were 7 municipal arrests for which the race of the arrestee was unknown.
What does this analysis mean?
Black adults are more than twice as likely as white adults to be arrested for municipal violations. There are 15.1 arrests for municipal violations for every 1,000 black adult residents compared to 6.9 arrests for every 1,000 white adult residents. In 2016, Asian residents were arrested nine times for municipal violations at a rate of one arrest per 1,000 adult residents. If arrest rates were equitable, 900 fewer black residents would have been arrested in 2016.
Why do Municipal Arrests matter?
According to Dr. Lee Slocum, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at University of Missouri-St. Louis, most arrests for municipal violations are triggered by an existing bench warrant, a written order issued by a judge authorizing the arrest of a person. Bench warrants are issued when a defendant fails to appear after receiving a summons with a specific court date.
Municipal arrests have a ripple effect on those arrested and their families, communities, and employers. Arrests can lead to time in jail, which affects a person’s ability to care for their family, and may cause them to lose their job or their driver’s license, which can affect their ability to get to their job. In addition, arrests for unpaid fees and fines contribute to tension and distrust between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.
Which Calls to Action from the Ferguson Commission report are linked with this indicator?
The Ferguson Commission’s calls to action related to municipal arrests include:
Questions for further investigation
- Why is there racial disparity in Municipal Arrests?
- What can St. Louis do to reduce racial disparities in Municipal Arrests?
- What initiatives are currently underway to reduce racial disparities in Municipal Arrests?
How can I learn more about this issue?
ArchCity Defenders released a report in 2014 about the municipal court system in St. Louis region and the ways it impacts poor and black communities.
The University of Missouri-St. Louis, in collaboration with the City of St. Louis, released its 2018 report, "Tracking Enforcement Rates in the City of St. Louis, 2002-2017." One of the types of enforcement studied included municipal arrests.