CPD committee creates plan to discuss racial disparities in traffic stops

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COLUMBIA –  Several community members joined Columbia Police Interim Chief Geoff Jones and committee panel members Tuesday to discuss racial disparities involving traffic stops.

This isn’t the first time this issue has been brought up.

In 2017, KOMU 8 News reported that the 2016 Vehicle Stops Report showed blacks were searched and arrested at a rate nearly double the state average, in stops involving the Columbia Police Department.

In 2018, KOMU 8 News reported that same data source for 2017 showed the projected disparity index for blacks rose from 3.13 in 2016 to 3.28 in 2017, which continued conversations about racial discrepancies in policing.

The “Vehicle Stops Working Group" was created by Jones. The group would assess racial inequalities in the traffic stops statistics over the last couple of years.

The committee is made up of 10 officers and regular civilians. At the meeting, the chair and co-chair were voted on. Toni Duke, a community member, was named chair and Pamela Hardin, first vice president at the NAACP, was named co-chair.

“I wanted to be on this panel to help balance out making this a city we know it can be, so that everyone feels safe driving,” Hardin said.

Hardin said Columbia can be a model city. She said getting pulled over is an issue many African Americans experience.

“It’s always been an issue in the community,” Hardin said. “I don’t think there are many African Americans that will say that they have not dealt with that issue of driving while black. We ourselves have. So it’s kind of a given and we want to get rid of that.”

Jones ended the meeting on a hopeful note. 

"This is incredibly exciting for me. Probably the most excited I've been about things that have progressed over the last couple months since I took this position," Jones said.

He then thanked the members for the hard work they will be doing in the coming months.

Panel members ended the meeting with a game plan. The group's next meeting will be on May 14.