About transport Law and Report

I am proud that Missouri is on the forefront of efforts to eliminate racial profiling, which has been defined as the inappropriate use of race when making a decision to stop, search, cite or arrest a person. To the extent that racial profiling occurs, it is an outdated practice that is not consistent with good police work, and it is a practice that is hurtful to a large portion of our population.

Racial profiling is not a visible problem to most white Americans; thus, there has been a tendency by the majority to ignore or dismiss these concerns expressed by African Americans and other people of color. Yet a national poll shows that 77 percent of African Americans believe racial profiling is pervasive. When law-abiding citizens -- including ministers, lawyers, teachers, students and even off-duty police officers -- believe they have been stopped simply because of their race, it focuses attention on a problem that we must address if we are to grow together as a community.

I commend the Missouri legislature for its efforts to address this issue, and I commend Missouri's law enforcement officers, who -- almost without exception -- have made an incredible good-faith effort to comply with this new law. Law enforcement, including the Office of the Attorney General, has undertaken this new challenge without additional funding and for the most part without a blueprint of how to proceed. Missouri is one of only 10 states -- including California, Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington -- with legislation that mandates data collection on this issue. Even the federal government and the Department of Justice are only now considering such efforts.

The acceptance and implementation of this law has been greatly aided by the good counsel and advice of the 18-member Attorney General's Advisory Committee on Racial Profiling. The committee is composed of law enforcement leaders, minority community leaders and interested citizens.1 The committee has demonstrated that people of good will, despite differing affiliations and views on an issue, can find common ground and learn from one another. I look forward to my continued work with them as we analyze the data presented and consider what steps lie ahead in the process.

Finally, it is important to remember that the vast majority of law enforcement works hard to do the right thing every day under challenging conditions and for little pay. The law enforcement leaders with whom I have worked have been eager and willing to implement this new law in an effort to ensure that good information is provided. Some agencies have gone the additional mile to gather even more data than required by law to ensure better service to their communities and better analysis of their data.

Peace officers in Missouri have been professional and responsible as they work to meet the considerable challenges of being one of the first states in the nation to implement a law of this nature. With their actions they have demonstrated an earnest desire to build trust in all communities and to provide equal justice under the law.