Tennessee bill sets penalty for ticket quotas
June 17, 2020
A bill nearing passage in the Tennessee General Assembly is intended to put an end to police going on ticket-writing sprees to meet ticket quotas.
The Volunteer State already prohibits the practice of ticket quotas. Despite the proactive step taken by the state Legislature in 2010, some say there is “no teeth” to the law because there is no criminal penalty attached to the rule.
House and Senate lawmakers have voted unanimously to advance a bill to put some bite into the rule.
Sponsored by Sen. Kerry Roberts, R-Springfield, and Rep. Clay Doggett, R-Pulaski, SB2458 would specify a penalty.
Supporters say the need for including a punishment for breaking the ticket quota rule is highlighted by recent illegal activity in one community north of Nashville.
Ridgetop, Tenn., is intersected by U.S. 41 in Davidson and Robertson counties.
Roberts said during a Senate committee discussion on the bill the town’s police department wrote about $250,000 in traffic tickets. Roberts said a city that size should be more in line with $30,000 in tickets.
Police said elected officials were responsible for the practice.
“The law had been broken, but there was no consequence so nothing could be done about it,” Roberts testified. “In so doing, we basically told every municipality in Tennessee ‘go ahead and have your ticket quota, because even though it is against the law there’s not a thing in the world anyone’s going to do about it.’”
Rep. Brandon Ogles, R-Franklin, added on the House floor that the ticket quota bill does not keep law enforcement from doing the job they are hired to do.
“We are in no way tying the hands of our law enforcement officers that do a great job enforcing the laws that we put on the books and hold people accountable daily when they violate our laws,” Ogles said.
Finally, a consequence for ticket quotas?
The bill would add a consequence for officials who implement ticket quotas. Public officials directing law enforcement to issue a certain number of tickets would be subject to a fine up to $500.
The House has voted to approve a version of the ticket quota bill that delays implementation of the new rule until Oct. 1, 2020. SB2458 now moves back to the Senate for final approval before heading to the governor’s desk.
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