New Haven, CT and St. Louis, MO – Today, the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department (SLMPD) and the Center for Policing Equity (CPE) released findings from a seven-year analysis of SLMPD’s policing practices and behaviors, as part of CPE’s National Justice Database (NJD) project, the nation’s first database tracking national statistics on police behavior, standardizing data collection practices, and spurring data-driven reforms to help redesign public safety for all CPE analyzed pedestrian stops, vehicle stops, and use of force data from 2012 to 2019 that were provided by the SLMPD, to examine whether Black and Brown communities experience frequent or burdensome police contact at a greater rate than other groups.
Key findings from CPE’s report include:
- The number of use of force incidents per year decreased 18.2 percent between 2012 and 2019.
- Black people were subjected to force 4.3 times as often as White people per year.
- After accounting for crime rates, poverty rates, and neighborhood demographics, Black people were subjected to force 3.3 times as often per resident as White people.
- Black people, who make up 47.5 percent of the population of the City of St. Louis, made up 65.4 percent of all drivers stopped in the report period.
- White people, who make up 42.9 percent of the population of the City of St. Louis, made up 32.3 percent of all drivers stopped in the report period.
- The total number of pedestrian stops per year decreased 82 percent between 2012 and 2019.
- Black pedestrians were stopped 2.3 times as often as White pedestrians per year on average.
The report also found that neighborhood characteristics played a significant role in shaping racial disparities in pedestrian stops. For instance, in neighborhoods with average crime and poverty rates, Black and White pedestrians were stopped at the same rates. In neighborhoods with less poverty, Black pedestrians were more likely than White pedestrians to be stopped.
CPE has been engaged in redesigning public safety with St. Louis since 2016, including forging recent collaborations with Forward Through Ferguson, as well as partnerships with the SLMPD, Department of Public Safety, and the Violence Prevention Commission. Today’s report represents a vital phase in the continuing partnership with St. Louis to redesign public safety, and assist communities in leveraging their lived experiences and data to demand the equitable systems they deserve.
“The first step in making public safety equitable is identifying existing racial disparities in policing,” said Dr. Tracie Keesee, Senior Vice President of Justice Initiatives and Co-Founder of CPE. “In our partnership with SLMPD and Chief Hayden, we have seen the department take a crucial step toward equitable public safety, and the results of these analyses find reason for optimism, along with critical areas to improve to advance our joint goal of equitable policing.”
The next step in the partnership is to inform the community of the findings from CPE’s analysis to promote transparency between SLMPD and the community; enhance community awareness and access to the work CPE is doing with law enforcement and other stakeholders in their respective communities; and assist communities in uplifting and empowering their voices to create safer, more equitable neighborhoods.
Community members are encouraged to participate in the Virtual Town Hall hosted by CPE, the Violence Prevention Commission (VPC), Department of Public Safety, and Mayor Jones at 6 pm CT on September 23, 2021. Community members can RSVP for the Town Hall here.
"The examination and analysis conducted by the CPE is very much appreciated and will continue to be utilized to ensure the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department is progressing in a direction of increased accountability, transparency, and community involvement,” said John Hayden, SLMPD’s chief. “As accountability has been one of the pillars of my administration, I believe we have made great strides in the past four years in ensuring our Department serves our community in a fair and equitable manner. It is understandable that this kind of research can bring about scrutiny and question policing practices. However, we embrace the challenge to do better and consider all suggestions from professionals, community stakeholders, and citizens."
“These are important conversations for St. Louis to have, and I look forward to continued partnership with CPE and leaders in our city to engage with this important and insightful data,'' said Mayor Tishaura O. Jones. “From 9-1-1 data to our police policies and practices, it is our job to learn from the past to shape a better, safer, and more equitable future.”
St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department