getting a traffic ticket

Do Police Really Have Traffic Ticket Quotas?

If you’ve ever wondered whether the officer who pulled you over was just trying to meet a quota, you’re not alone. A quick internet search reveals that lots of us are asking that same question.

Maybe an officer nabbed you for going just a little over the speed limit and ignored someone driving much faster, or perhaps you always notice extra police activity during the last few days of the month.

While it often seems like a quota might be in place, the truth isn’t quite so straightforward.

Traffic Ticket Quotas Under Scrutiny

Some states already have laws banning ticket quotas, and even more are being implemented this year.

Just last week, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill prohibiting police departments from setting traffic ticket quotas and from comparing officers’ ticket numbers when deciding promotions and raises. The law took effect immediately.

Days later, New Jersey Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlan announced that he would introduce a similar bill, and another in Oklahoma has already passed the legislature and is now awaiting Governor Mary Fallin’s signature.

Illegal Ticket Quotas

But state laws don’t always deter police departments from trying to impose quotas - sometimes under the guise of maintaining a “station average” - and embroiling themselves in controversy.

Quotas have been prohibited in California for ten years, but police departments are even now facing lawsuits from their own officers alleging that ticket quotas are in effect and are being used to evaluate performance. The city of Los Angeles paid a $2 million settlement in 2009, and a $6 million settlement in 2013, both to its own officers. Another case was settled just this year against the city of Paso Robles for an undisclosed amount.

Florida’s law banning ticket quotas only applies to state law enforcement agencies, such as the Florida Highway Patrol, but even the FHP has come under fire for allegedly firing an officer for not writing enough tickets in 2009.

Police departments in Pennsylvania and New York have also been criticized for alleged use of quotas in violation of state law.

Ticket Quotas Undermine Public Trust

Anyone who’s ever received a ticket knows that it puts a good chunk of your hard-earned money in the police department’s pocket. With many city police departments across the country facing budget cuts in recent years, it’s no wonder city officials and department management might be feeling pressure to raise more money, and pass that pressure on to their officers.

Police departments in Illinois who argued against the recent bill said that the new law would prevent management from establishing standards for officer performance and motivating officers to meet those standards.

But State Representative Jay Hoffman, who sponsored the bill, points out that it “does not prohibit evaluating an officer by points of contact” including traffic stops, warnings, and arrest, but “just prohibits mandated ticket quotas.”

Police unions and lawmakers in Illinois maintain that quotas take away police discretion and put the focus on arbitrary numbers rather than on public safety. Getting rid of quotas, they say, will enable officers to better protect the public, and boost the public’s trust in law enforcement.


Add new comment

Been a cop for 39 years ( Texas) Never had anyone tell me that I needed to write more tickets. But there never had to tell me to work, like some of the lazy A-- cops I have seen. If we didn't write tickets it would be chaos on the roads. Road rage would be out of control. I'm telling you as a cop that most of these guys or gals that complain about quotas just don't want to work. They don't want to go to court. If some one complains that the cars are speeding in an area near a park or school. Thew Sgt. will assign someone to give the area some attention. Some of the officers will go out and never even turn on the radar much less do their job and issue a citation. I'm telling you there are a bunch of cops that just want to ride around and answer a call "if they have to" but don't want to do much. I have actually seen one officer tell another who was working "hey man why do you write all those tickets , it makes the rest of us look bad" If they would just work when they are on duty no one would have to say anything to them about numbers. No only do they not write tickets, but if you watch you'll they will be the last one to show up on a call when dispatched. Even when its in their beat. They just want to make to 25 years and take a Believe me a great retirement check. Which is fine , but some of us worked hard for ours. And some of you barley worked at all. "SLUGS".
So if anyone that reads this that is thinking of becoming a cop, if you are a lazy ass and move slow. Please don't get in the way of someone who wants to work. If you afraid to show up on the hot calls first or afraid to confront the bad guys , then go drive a bus and stay out of the way of the real cops.

Protect Your Driving Record

Enroll Now