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If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now

Posted on November 28th, 2007 in , | 42 Comments

radarofficerA ticket quota is a policy that encourages or requires officers to give out a certain number of traffic tickets regardless of how many people are actually violating the law.

Here’s a quick roundup of stories from this year where ticket quotas were discovered around the country.


Washington State Police Use Ticket Quotas
Officials with the Washington State Patrol set numeric goals that encourage state police officers to issue as many traffic citations as possible. The effect has been a significant increase in the number of tickets written — 50,000 additional tickets were issued between 2005 and 2006. A Bellvue state patrol sergeant issued a memo ordering troopers to meet the accountability goals, writing: “No matter how many cars you stop, the goal… is 80 percent enforcement (tickets).” Those failing to meet the goal may lose vacation time or receive other sanctions.


Georgia: Speed Trap Caught Using Ticket Quotas
WGCL-TV reports that DeKalb County Police officers are told during roll call that they must issue 65 citations a month and make 25 arrests. Those on traffic duty must issue a minimum of 150 citations a month and make 11 arrests. Unlike in many states, ticket quotas are not illegal in Georgia.


Texas: Ticket Quota Memo Uncovered
Police officers in Midlothian, Texas received a written memo ordering them to issue twenty traffic citations each month. With more revenue, police officials believed they would be able to expand the small department. WFAA-TV in Dallas confirmed the quota’s existence through unnamed department sources, marking the second time this year a numeric traffic ticket quota has been uncovered in Ellis County.


Michigan: Community Protest Torpedoes Ticket Quota
A planned protest at the Redford Township, Michigan police station helped kill a ticket quota that officials had adopted last month. Since mid-July, township police had been handed one hour’s worth of overtime pay for every two traffic citations issued. This meant that a typical officer could pocket up to $21 in cash for each individual ticket issued. The Mary Church Terrell Council for Community Empowerment now plans to go after the ticket quota in Dearborn Heights. The Detroit suburbs of Livonia, Oak Park, Rochester and Trenton also depend on numeric ticket quotas for police.


Iowa: Police Chief Suspended Over Ticket Quota
The Pleasant Hill, Iowa city manager suspended the city’s police chief on April 26 after evidence surfaced that he had instituted an illegal traffic ticket quota. According to local police union leader Ron Zimmerman, 33, officers were being told to issue between five and ten tickets each month. A sergeant chided Officer Zimmerman on “the low number of tickets” that he issued. Although Chief William Hansen, 58, denies the existence of a quota, a Des Moines Register review of court documents shows the amount of ticket revenue has more than doubled under Hansen’s watch.

Denver, Colorado Ticket Quota Uncovered
Police officials in Denver, Colorado confirmed that they have placed pressure on rank-and-file officers to issue a minimum number of traffic citations. Since September, those that have failed to produce have faced disciplinary action. “We’re always looking at performance,” Denver Police Captain Eric Rubin told KCNC-TV. “If an officer is under the average set we might discuss it with the officer.” Rubin insisted that these requirements are not a quota. Instead, they are a “measure of performance.”


Texas: Police Chief Faces Ticket Quota Charges
The police chief in Red Oak, Texas faces charges that he imposed an illegal traffic ticket quota. The city council last week suspended Police Chief Donald “Red” Fullerton and Deputy Chief Stephen Anderson pending the conclusion of an outside investigation by a retired Fort Worth policeman. Evidence shows that the city’s police force began issuing a traffic ticket every twenty minutes during a severe budget shortfall. The police chief budgeted $3.4 million in citation revenue, which required each officer to issue 320 tickets a month. A bulletin board in the police station displayed how each officer measured up.


Utah: Police Chief Blocks Ticket Quota Ban
It isn’t often that a police chief can block the action of an entire state legislature. However, Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner stopped a ticket quota bill aimed directly at him from being considered by the state Senate. Greiner, a newly elected state Senator representing the Ogden area, cast the deciding vote on the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee where the measure failed 2-2. Representative Neil Hansen (D-Ogden) had introduced a bill that had passed the House to prohibit municipalities, counties, sheriffs and police chiefs from requiring officers to issue a certain number of tickets in a given amount of time.

All articles referenced were compiled from the archives of
Click on the titles of each section to read the full story behind each of these situations.

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42 Responses to “If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now”

  1. […] cop writing 2 tickets per day, averaging $200 a ticket, can generate $140,000 in one calendar year. If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now […]

  2. Val C says:

    The police is NOT a tax-collector. Police is there to deal with violators of a law. Period. If you break a law,there may be a fine.

    HOWEVER, ff the government passes or enforces laws for the purpose of revenues, it is ILLEGAL AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL and the risk losing in the supreme court and having to refund ALL FINES. Laws/fines are there to protect somebody, NOT to bypass/substitude tax revenues. I hope somebody takes this up soon!

    We don’t need more pissed off people shooting policemen. In the difficult economic times, police should be more understanding and soft, not to add $500 fins to already broke people.

  3. Bob Knoke says:

    I’ve just been told by a city councilman that our Iowa Governor Clover has set standards including number of tickets issued, that if not met will result in a loss of some state funding for our police Department (Belle Plaine, IA) Is there anyone out there who can verify or refute this claim?

  4. […] The Miata in question was parked in the driveway, pulled to about where it always was. How much of it was hanging over the sidewalk? 2 inches! There was 2 inches of the bumper hanging over the sidewalk. Anyone walking down the sidewalk wouldn’t even have to make adjustments in their stride. Why ticket me for this? I’m guessing it has something to do with the rise in tickets being issued all over the U.S. to combat falling city budgets. […]

  5. Phil Mckrackin says:

    Speeding is just as illegal as quotas but you all still speed! Then you cry and complain how it wasn't your fault and the police were trying to fill a quota, picking on you or enforcing corrupt speed limits. Grow up!

    • TonyRouse says:

      Revenue is not and has never been the motive behind large speeding fines. The concept of deterrence is. As there are two type of deterrence [specific and general] specific that an offender might not repeat the behavior and general that others learn from the original offender's actions. So why are fines so large? “General Deterrence Theory” has three basic components [e.g., certainty, severity, and swiftness] and all three must be present for any general deterrence effect to occur. Continued.

    • TonyRouse says:

      Continued: With regard to speeding the certainty is the likelihood an offender will be caught-which comes from more officers, sophisticated radar and other measuring devices. Severity is why fines are so large, that fines must outweigh any gain of the offender’s action. If fines were minuscule, who would care if they get caught? The last is swiftness which means that the punishment must come in such close proximity to the offense that the "general public" can draw a connection between the offense and the punishment. For example: this is why the death penalty is weak, it takes way too long for our system to punish offenders quick enough thus it looses any general deterrence value on that aspect. Most do not even remember the offense by the time we get around to putting offenders to death for their crimes.

    • TonyRouse says:

      Continued: So I am being clear enough, heavy fines are simply a way to deter the general public from speeding in favor of simply slowing down. Of course the practice of assessing a greater fine for the greater the speed over the limit makes perfect sense. Once we reach the futuristic method of automated speed detection, who will speeders blame then? Officers, quotas, or governmental revenue? My finger points in a much simpler direction; straight at the offenders where it should. Speed does kill so why not keep people from exceeding road conditions, congested intersections, or poorly designed roadways as a way of saving lives. Anybody got a better idea I am all for hearing it. Till then, watch the signs and lines, if not, pay the fines-and yes, they are not cheap for a reason.

  6. […] not anywhere else, Quotas are ILLEGAL, Just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean it never happens: If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now September-Texas: Ticket Quota Memo Uncovered Police officers in Midlothian, Texas received a […]

  7. […] and I for one think we oughta remind them who’s really supposed to be in charge of this country. If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now Ticket Quota Cover-up Continues with Pennsylvania State Police […]

  8. […] So don’t… Hey look this one even talks about one in Iowa, and one in colorado… Michigan? Utah… bNET Oh, here’s one from Austin, Texas, btw this is actual records from a Texas Court of […]

  9. […] there is no such thing as a ticket quota for police officers…. it’s a myth WRONG!!!! If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now Do Traffic Ticket Quotas Really Exist? NYPD’s Bogus Little Secret: Parking Ticket Quotas […]

  10. barneyfife says:

    ****Visit my website to read about the Police harrassment and ticket quota in Booneville Ms. Click on the first lint to see the Ticket quota ,The second link to visit my website and read more about the Sheriffs Dept and the Police Dept Harrassment on my readers also ……..

  11. James Young says:

    Interesting. I suppose that there are few small villages in Virginia that aggressively enforce traffic law if they don’t get to keep the money.

    Several years ago, when I first developed the concept of removing the economic incentive from these villages – there are several dozen of them in Oklahoma whose very existence depends on traffic fines – I thought of directing the money straight to public schools, but dismissed that because the school districts would then be lobbying for lower limits, higher fines and more laws. That’s why I opted to use an independent public corporation that would have little incentive to lobby for more money and whose constituents – the college-aged public and their parents –would be too diverse to lobby for money that was not assured to them in any case.

    I find it amusing that Virginia’s efforts have backfired, causing more cases to go to court, lawsuits and the negative publicity ensuing from their heavy-handed new law. As you say, it did not work as intended.

  12. Charter Wells, Jr. says:

    Mr. Young,

    By law, all traffic fines in Virginia go to our state’s public school systems. Consequently, there was no incentive for ticket quotas.

    However, that changed during Virginia’s last legislative session when it passed a law requiring judges to add an “abusive driver fee” to any fine for a moving violation. The law mandates “fees” upwards of $3,000 for certain “abusive practices,” such as failure to signal a lane change. The stated purpose of this legislation is “to generate revenue.” [Code of Virginia; § 46.2-206.1] Incentive for ticket quotas now exist where none did before.

    The law applies only to Virginia motorists. According to today’s newspapers, the law has done little to raise revenue. Nor has it done anything to improve traffic safety as witnessed by the fact that 2007 was a record year for fatalities in the 21st century.

  13. James Young says:

    Joe, while I oppose quotas as much as the next person, I would put my efforts into revising the law as follows:

    My law would create the Oklahoma Scholarship Corporation (OSC), a public corporation whose purpose is to collect all traffic fines, administrative fees, court costs and any other statutorily required fees from all jurisdictions in Oklahoma. A citation resulting in fines in Tulsa or in Tushka would have the driver sending the fine and fees to the OSC rather than to the local court. It would be illegal for any citing jurisdiction to ever receive any money from traffic citations.

    The OSC would then invest in a permanent fund composed of stocks or direct ownership of private corporations (IOW, a huge portfolio) that would produce an available fund (from dividends and growth) that is used to provide scholarships to state universities and colleges.

    This would retain the economic disincentive for drivers (so beloved by LE) while simultaneously removing the economic incentive for speed traps such as Caney, Stringtown, et al. Of course, the immediate result would be the elimination of all those chickensh*t little speed traps, who would simply go bankrupt, making driving through OK easier and less costly.

    Look up your state senator and representative. While I reside and vote in Texas, my old OK reps were Sen. James Williamson and Rep. Ron Peters, both of whom have already been provided with this idea. Peters found the idea “interesting,” which could mean anything but speed traps were a concern when I presented this to him a couple of years ago. Enlist the help of a lawyer friend to write a complete bill.

    Ron Peters can be reached at (918) 749-2658.

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