Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Ticket Quotas - Yea or Nay?

The question was, Should cops have ticket quotas?. The results of this survey?

No 26 (46%)
Yes 31 (54%)

Thanks to the 57 readers for participating in this survey.

Early in the week-long survey, the Yes's ran ahead in the voting. Then the No's pulled even, and at the end the Yes's moved ahead again.

Having performance standards is one thing; having quotas is another. With my bent toward traffic violations, I see a lot of them. So writing traffic tickets often seems to me to be a no-brainer. And yet I remember the days when I had time to "hide behind billboards" (that sort of "dates" me, doesn't it?), just waiting for a speeder or a driver to roll through a stop sign or a driver to pass illegally in a no-passing zone.

Where did they all go? Was there a spotlight on my car? Was some kid standing down the block with a sign reading "Cop ahead"?

Seeing traffic violations and not taking action is a "performance" problem and can be corrected through supervision and training.

Coming up to the end of the month 4-5-6 tickets short of your quota is a problem, because it means the cop or deputy then has to write tickets to stay out of his supervisor's crosshairs. And that's where the quota requirement goes awry.

Sometimes a little "roadside counseling" gets the job done, and the cop knows it. The driver understands and acknowledges the error, the cop doesn't believe it to be a "habit", and a Warning will suffice. Then there are times when a driver "cops" an attitude and a situation that might have resulted in a Warning becomes one in which a ticket is issued.

Discretion should be just that. Not favoritism (because the driver flashes his badge at the deputy or because he has an LE or FF license plate or a "police association donation" decal in the back window or because the driver says "my wife (or husband or brother or sister-in-law or best friend's niece's father-in-law's second wife) is a cop in (name the local town).

And discretion must not be taken away from the officer, just because it's the end of the month and he "has to" make his numbers.

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