09 July 2005

Officers, Troopers, and Deputies will never admit to a ticket quota (at least the smart and moderatley well-trained ones won't). However, I know I've sat next to a couple of Troopers and heard them talk about getting unloaded on by their superiors because they were tasked to other matters and had not done enough road work the last month (road work being measured by tickets).


Windypundit said...

You see, it's not a quota because they don't call it that.

T Kemp said...


Check out this post on my blog: http://www.kemplog.com/archives/000096.html

A supervisor in the local PD actually threatened to take away officers' overtime if they did not produce arrests when working a special detail, funded by a grant.

I posted the memo as well

Tom McKenna said...

Assume for the sake of argument there is a ticket "quota." So what? If the State Police, my old boss, wanted me to write an average of 4 tickets a days as some kind of proof I was not just sleeping in a median cut-through, does that obviate people's rights?

The reality is, one could (and some officers do) write 20 or more tickets a shift, all legitimate violations of the law. Heck, in one of those grant funded shifts, I wrote 28 speeding tickets in 8 hours. Not easy, but every single one was more than 10 over the posted limit.

This phenomenon is not a problem in my book unless and until it is shown that it is in fact resulting in ficticious charges being placed.

Anonymous said...


1) Doesn't this tend to encourage a kind of numbers game that is actually detrimental to law enforcement? For instance, sitting on the median and handing out a dozen 10mph-over tickets instead of tracking down one serious crime.

2) Can you show that there will be x number of actual traffic violations each and every day?

3) When you know a million people are speeding, it seems a bit unfair to be the one who gets a ticket. Sending out cops to hand out a particular number of tickets (or do a particular number of stops) just amplifies the public perception of unfairness.


Anonymous said...


It's because people don't like to feel like they're being hunted. I suppose you can't understand that.


Anonymous said...

OK then Tom. But then why be so coy about the quotas? Taxpayers should know the metrics by which their employees are being judged, don't you think?

I suggest you talk to your former coworkers and tell them to be proud of their numbers.

Ken Lammers said...

As I see it, there are two problems with quotas. First, it is a terrible way to judge an officer's job performance in the field; it is a lazy, paper pusher way to judge performance. It punishes those who are drawn away to more important duties because on paper they are not doing their job. This is basically what had happened to the Troopers I discussed in the original post. As well, if the officer is really a slacker he can easily scam that system. He can write those four tickets in the first hour of duty and spend the remaining hours of the shift reading or running personal errands. Even if he's required to write one per hour he can set his watch to beep on the hour and he just tags the next guy then goes back to his crossword puzzle.

Second, it's a form of hidden taxation. In bigger jurisdictions this isn't really a problem. However, in jurisdictions a little further out I see more of an effort to get every bit of money out of the court system as possible. I've never heard anyone say "We need to write 1,000 tickets a month or we don't get a new patrol car (again) this year" but it's not very hard to imagine.

Tom McKenna said...

All good comments... but the fact remains, a quota per se does not implicate anyone's rights. I think we're all grown up enough to appreciate that police agencies have to look at numbers to some extent.

I certainly agree that targets or quotas or whatever one calls them can be abused. In my own case, I had to appeal a performance evaluation that criticized me for writing fewer traffic tickets even though my criminal arrests had gone substantially up. I won, though, which indicated that the system works.

As to whether people think writing lots of traffic tickets is a good use of resources, that is a purely political question, which one must assume has thusfar been answered in favor of traffic enforcement.

Oh, and I should add I despise the notion of any link between enforcement and agency funding... in the Commonwealth our ticket revenue goes into school funding.

Ken Lammers said...

I believe that in Virginia (See that localities can adopt the code and collect their own fines. That money goes to the municipality.

Ken Lammers said...

Fairfax is even clearer about it.

Ken Lammers said...

I wish Blogger would let me edit my comments.

The second post above is supposed to link to Chesterfield County's adoption of the Commonwealth's traffic laws under section 13.1 of the municipal code.

Tom McKenna said...

Not to be too nit-picking, but I was a state trooper, and our fines and costs went to the literary fund, see Code of Virginia Section 22.1-142, which is used to fund school construction.

Localities can indeed keep fines and costs IF the local ordinance is cited rather than the state code. I can only speak for Chesterfield: the revenues go into the treasury and do not revert directly to the police. So it's no more amenable to abuse than the Courts assessing fines and costs, for instance.

Ken Lammers said...

I don't often see officers in Chesterfield write tickets under the municipal code. I have seen 13.1 cited but usually for driving suspended. Not sure why.

As well, Troopers don't have any motivation to write anything under local ordinances. Local officers and deputies could, depending on how the local funds are disbursed.

Tom McKenna said...

I can tell you that many local police agencies do encourage (mandate?) their officers to write under the local ordinance, precisely, I'm sure, to make sure that money comes to the locality. But no jurisdiction I'm aware of funnels that money directly to the police, which would of course present at the very least an appearance of "fund raising by ticket writing." Most localities are too politically smart to allow that kind of direct connection.