Michigan bill would close ticket quotas loophole

September 7, 2021

Keith Goble

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Multiple states this year have taken legislative action to address concern about police officers feeling pressure to issue traffic citations because of ticket quotas.

The state of Michigan is the most recent location to have a legislator take up the fight to quell them.

Existing Michigan law leaves loophole

Since 2010, state law prohibits a police officer from being required to issue a certain number of citations for traffic offenses.

According to a legislative analysis at the time, even though police departments were generally prohibited from ticket quotas, or requiring officers to write a specified number of tickets, there were reports about departments that engaged in related practices. Examples included offering prizes to the officer who wrote the most tickets in a time period or withholding promotions from officers who issue few tickets.

The 2010 law attempted to address concerns about abuse. However, an exception provided in the law authorizes ticket numbers to be used as part of a police officer’s evaluation system.

The lone requirement for the inclusion of the ticket writing component is that the issuance of citations is not given any greater consideration than any other factor in the evaluation of an officer’s performance.

Senate bill looks to eliminate ticket quota loophole

Sen. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, is behind a bill to revise statute to prohibit a police officer’s performance evaluation from including any consideration of citations issued.

The bill, SB599, is in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.

Nevada

A similar new ticket quota law in Nevada now is in place.

Gov. Steve Sisolak acted earlier this year to sign into law a bill to forbid police departments from any requirement for officers to issue a specific number of citations. AB186 implements the same protection to protect officers from making a certain number of arrests.

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

Assemblywoman Rochelle Nguyen, D-Las Vegas, has referred to the quota system as a “perverse policy 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 said that departments should be able to use citation and arrest data when evaluating officers.

New Jersey

The New Jersey Legislature has approved a bill that is intended to curb policing for profit.

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

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,” Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Hunterdon/Mercer, 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 ticket quota bill swept through the statehouse earlier this year. S1322 has moved to the governor’s desk. 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.

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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.