Bills in seven states cover ticket quotas

April 20, 2021

Keith Goble

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Work continues in statehouses from Nevada to Pennsylvania to put an end to practices that require law enforcement officers to partake in ticket-writing sprees, or ticket quotas.

About 20 states have acted to discourage practices that pressure law enforcement officers to write tickets and/or make arrests.

Below is a rundown of legislation around the country to implement rules aimed to eliminate potential abuses.

Alabama

One Alabama House bill is intended to prevent aggressive ticketing practices.

Sponsored by Rep. Andrew Sorrell, R-Muscle Shoals, the bill would prohibit state and local law enforcement agencies from establishing ticket quotas.

Agencies would also be forbidden from providing incentives for issuing traffic tickets.

The bill, HB362, is in the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee.

Illinois

An effort underway at the Illinois statehouse is focused on thwarting overzealous ticketing.

Since 2014, Illinois law has forbidden any requirement “to issue a specific number of citations within a designated period of time.” Law enforcement agencies are prohibited from evaluating personnel based on the number of tickets written or arrests made.

The 7-year-old law allows state, county and municipal police departments to continue to use officer contacts as an evaluative tool. The exercise covers any instance where an officer makes contact with someone.

Rep. Adam Niemerg, R-Dieterich, has introduced HB3055 to prohibit municipalities from using points systems, quotas or any related process to track or account for citations or warnings issued by a police officer. Specifically, the number of traffic stops completed and written warnings could not be included in the state’s definition of “points of contact.”

Nevada

A Nevada Assembly bill to ban ticket quotas is on the move.

Assemblywoman Rochelle Nguyen, D-Las Vegas, introduced the bill to forbid police departments from any requirement for officers to issue a specific number of citations. The same protection would be implemented to protect officers from making a certain number of arrests.

Additionally, departments would be prohibited from considering citations written or arrests made when evaluating officer performance.

The Assembly Government Affairs Committee recently held a hearing on the bill.

During committee discussion on the bill Assemblywoman Nguyen referred to the ticket quota system as a “perverse policing activity.”

She added that ticket quotas are used to fund certain departments and to evaluate personnel.

“Their use damages the integrity of law enforcement in communities throughout Nevada,” Nguyen testified.

Critics question whether quotas exist in the state. They add that departments should be able to use citation and arrest data when evaluating officers.

The committee later voted to advance AB186 to the chamber floor.

New Jersey

A New Jersey Senate-approved bill is intended to curb ticket quotas.

State law prohibits ticketing numbers from being the “sole” factor when evaluating officer performance.

Sponsored by Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Hunterdon/Mercer, S1322 would close the loophole. Specifically, law enforcement agencies would be prohibited from using the volume of an officer’s arrests or citations as a factor when evaluating that officer’s overall performance.

“Officers are all too often pressured to write more tickets to increase revenue and help municipalities balance their budgets,” Turner said in previous remarks.

Critics say there is no one-size-fits-all standard of performance for law enforcement. Instead, police chiefs need to have the ability to establish performance measures and expectations specific to their individual agencies.

Another provision in the bill would prohibit agencies from posting arrest and citation data in common areas accessible to all officers “to create competition between officers concerning arrests and citations.”

The bill is in the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.

New York

Two bills introduced in each chamber of the New York State Legislature also address the issue of ticket quotas.

The Assembly bill is meant to remove a gap in the protection against overzealous ticketing.

The Empire State prohibits an employer from transferring or penalizing a police officer for failure to meet an established quota.

Bill supporters point out it is possible, however, that an employer could deny a promotion to a police officer who fails to meet a quota.

In an effort to address the concern, A1405 would outlaw an employer from denying a promotion to an officer solely because the officer failed to meet an established quota.

A related Senate bill covers concern about ticket quotas. S1253 would specify that violation of existing statute could result in up to one year in jail.

Oklahoma

An Oklahoma Senate bill targets ticket quotas.

State law prohibits cities and towns from generating more than half of their revenue through traffic fines.

Sponsored by Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, the bill would outlaw local governments and police departments from requiring officers to issue a certain number of citations within a specific period of time. Additionally, agencies would be prohibited from evaluating personnel based on the number of tickets written or arrests made.

Violators would face removal from their position.

“It’s no secret that quotas exist for many jurisdictions across the state,” Sen. Nathan Dahm, R-Broken Arrow, said in previous remarks. “These practices prohibit our law enforcement officers from effectively doing their jobs.”

The Senate General Government Committee has voted to advance the bill. SB346 awaits further consideration on the Senate floor.

Pennsylvania

A Pennsylvania bill would ban ticket quota language for any regional police department or agency in the state.

Sponsored by Rep. Greg Rothman, R-Cumberland, the bill would outlaw any quota order, mandate or requirement.

The protection would forbid law enforcement agencies from directly or indirectly, suggesting to any officer that the officer issue a certain number of citations over a specified period of time.

HB134 is in the House Transportation Committee.

Failed efforts

Bills in Minnesota and Mississippi to address the concerns about ticket quotas have met their demise.

In Minnesota, two bills on the issue failed to advance prior to deadlines.

Statute forbids law enforcement agencies from implementing an order, mandate, requirement or suggestion to an officer about a citation quota.

Companion bills in both statehouse chambers called for extending the protection to include prohibiting any agency from using the number of citations issued, the number of traffic stops made, or traffic enforcement activity by an officer as criteria to evaluate performance. The protection would also apply to arrests.

The Mississippi bill sought to prohibit any law enforcement agency from establishing a policy that requires officers to meet a ticket quota.

The measure called for forbidding the number of arrests or citations issued by an officer from being the sole criteria for a promotion, demotion, or dismissal. Arrests or citations issued could be considered when evaluating overall performance.

Mississippi senators approved the bill, but it did not come up for consideration in the House. LL

More state trends

Keith Goble, state legislative editor for Land Line Media, keeps track of many trends among statehouses across the U.S. Here are some recent articles by him.

PrePass

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.