About 25 Missouri Highway Patrol troopers will be policing the interstate highways in St. Louis as part of Gov. Eric Greitens’ initiatives to combat crime in the city. Civil rights groups worry about racial profiling by the troopers, a persistent problem in the state.
A new pilot program that assigns 20 to 30 Missouri Highway Patrol troopers to police the interstate highways in St. Louis has sparked fear that the influx could lead to increased racial profiling, reports the Post-Dispatch. Gov. Eric Greitens announced a series of initiatives this month to combat crime in St. Louis, including collaborative efforts with the FBI, DEA, and the state Departments of Corrections, Social Services and Mental Health. But the 90-day program putting troopers along Interstates 55 and 70 has raised questions for civil rights groups, including the ACLU of Missouri, which wants to know how decisions are being made about trooper placement.
The ACLU’s Jeffrey Mittman points to state data showing that black motorists in Missouri are stopped at a rate 75 percent higher than white drivers. The same report also found that roughly 7 percent of traffic stops of black or Hispanic drivers resulted in arrests, compared with about 4 percent of white motorists. “We know communities of color are overpoliced,” Mittman said. “Any attempt that doesn’t acknowledge that we’ve been doing it wrong is a step backwards.” At the end of the 90 days, the governor will assess the success of the program and continue elements of the safety plan that are getting results.