New Jersey panel advances bill to thwart ticket quotas

December 21, 2020

Keith Goble

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A bill moving through the New Jersey Senate is intended to put an end to police ticket quotas.

The National Motorists Association says that “a speed trap exists wherever traffic enforcement is focused on extracting revenue from drivers instead of improving safety.”

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

A bipartisan effort at the statehouse, however, would address a loophole they say allows policing for profit.

The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee has voted unanimously to advance a bill to prohibit law enforcement agencies from using the volume of an officer’s arrests or citations as a factor when evaluating that officer’s overall performance.

 ‘Cops against cops’

Rob Nixon, a lobbyist for the New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association, testified on the bill before the committee vote. He told legislators problems persist despite legislators’ best efforts to eliminate ticket quotas.

“Quotas quite honestly do exist, and police officers are being held with the threat of discipline if they do not write enough tickets,” Nixon testified.

Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-Monmouth, says that ticket quotas damage the reputation of law enforcement officers with the public.

“Our goal should be the greatest amount of compliance and the greatest amount of safety with the least amount of punishment,” O’Scanlon told the committee. “Ticket quotas, and pitting cops against cops, really warps that goal.”

‘Inappropriate intrusion’

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.

Paul Penna, a legislative analyst for the New Jersey State League of Municipalities, told the panel the bill “represents an excessive and inappropriate intrusion into a purely local personnel management matter.”

The ticket quotas bill, S1322, awaits possible consideration on the Senate floor. If approved there, it would head to the Assembly.

Despite the end of the calendar year approaching, the New Jersey Legislature is in the first of a two-year session that does not wrap up until January 2022. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from New Jersey is available.

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Keith Goble

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.