NYPD ticket quotas far from only jurisdiction that has them (part 2)

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Traffic stop

Despite protestations to the contrary, yes, there are ticket quotas though there's a lot of legal grey area. Photo Credit: Coolcaesar/Wikimedia Commons/CC-BY-SA

A scandal has been publicized about there being ticket quotas in the New York Police Department, though the NYPD denies “quotas” exist. The fact is that ticket quotas do exist, usually referred to as “performance goals,” which is unpopular with the public.

Yes, Virginia, there are ticket quotas

A recent scandal in New York City over ticket quotas has raised the ugly topic of police ticketing people for reasons other than just breaking the law.

You can read more about the NYPD ticket quotas scandal here.

Many citizens, in any city, don’t relish the idea of police pulling people over, issuing tickets and summons to traffic court, simply to make up the numbers or fill state coffers.

Some consider it a breach of trust in law enforcement, not to mention an increase in insurance premiums. Feeling like one is paying more in insurance on top of paying off any motor vehicle finance for an arbitrary reason engenders resentment. Like it or not, ticket quotas, in some form or another, exist.

Often shrouded in double-speak

Just like mass layoffs being called “downsizing” instead of “firing people to keep paying executive bonuses,” there’s a bit of double-speak; some states legally prohibit “ticket quotas” by law. However, they don’t prohibit “performance goals.”

For instance, in 2006, according to the New York Times, an arbitrator ruled against a Brooklyn NYPD precinct for enforcing ticket quotas, which violated laws but ruled that “performance goals” were legal. In 2010, the New York Times received an audio tape of a police captain ordering shifts to write 20 tickets, itemized by offense, per week, which were characterized as “performance goals.”

Numerous departments have goals

Other ticket quota incidents similarly cite “performance goals.” For instance, WUSA9, a CBS affiliate in Arlington, Va., received memos issued to police officers there ordering “performance goals” and threatening discipline, if necessary, if they aren’t met earlier this year.

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One is viewable on arlnow.com, an Arlington-area news site, clearly stating total tickets to be issued, itemized by shift and by offense; for instance, the “midnight shift” is directed to make 7 arrests, make 3 field reports, issue 16 traffic summons (summons to traffic court, i.e. tickets) and one DUI arrest.

Arlington police chief Douglas Scott rescinded the memos in March.

Governor Dannel Malloy of Connecticut, according to NBC Connecticut, ordered an investigation in March of this year into memos published by NBC Connecticut, of similar performance goals, of specific troops, units of police, being “suggested” to issue more tickets and out-perform other troops.

Infernal affairs

In Los Angeles, two motorcycle officers filed a lawsuit against the LAPD in 2009, according to the Los Angeles Times, for being denied overtime, denigrated unfairly in performance reviews and for being harassed for refusing to comply with a ticket quota imposed on them. They were awarded $2 million in April 2011 by a jury. Similar suits were filed by a single motorcycle officer in March of 2011 and another by 10 motorcycle officers in June of this year, according to NBC Los Angeles.

In Henderson, Lousiana, according to The Advocate, a Baton Rouge-area newspaper, two police officials were arrested in August for falsifying public records, public payroll fraud, criminal conspiracy and malfeasance of office for a “bonus” system, whereby officers were paid a bonus for every ticket and had to write at least two per hour. They also determined hours worked by number of tickets issued, paying officers above hourly rates.

Whether a “performance goal” or really a quota, police departments have them. The best defense is to not give them an excuse to include you in their quota and follow the law.


New York Times

NBC Connecticut

New York Times

WUSA9: http://www.wusa9.com/news/article/201297/188/Police-Chief-Douglas-Scott-of-Arlington-County-Va-denies-allegations-of-ticket-quotas

Arlnow.com: http://www.arlnow.com/2012/03/20/wusa-9-memo-reveals-acpd-ticket-quota/

Los Angeles Times: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/12/local/la-me-ticket-quotas-20110412

NBC Los Angeles: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/LAPD-Traffic-Ticket-Quota-Lawsuit-142125303.html

The Advocate: http://theadvocate.com/news/police/3812196-123/police-leaders-to-keep-jobs

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