Lawmakers to end ticket quotas

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It is well known that traffic tickets generate a lot of money every year for states and local towns and cities. Speed traps and packs of law enforcement  patrolling for speeders  have many drivers believing the law enforcement is focused on meeting traffic ticket quotas and not protecting the public.

In Florida in July, 2006, an internal memo from a lieutenant to all patrol personnel appears to imply a quota for writing tickets. According to a First Coast News report, the memo, in part read: “After assessing the April Statistics it was obvious I had not made the department’s expectations for an Officer’s monthly activity known. Thus, following is a list of my expectations for the minimum activity for each patrol officer/supervisor each month.

  1. Approximately 2 UTC’s for each shift worked.
  2. Approximately 2 traffic warnings for each shift worked.”

A U-T-C is a Uniform Traffic Citation. But Florida State Law forbids quotas. According to the 2003 Legislative session, Title XXIII Motor Vehicles 316.640: “An agency of the state as described in subparagraph 1. is prohibited from establishing a traffic citation quota.”

Well, now it looks like the Florida Legislature is trying to change the ambiguity and specifically prohibit local law enforcement from enacting ticket quotas.  Channel 4 reports that this past Wednesday, the Senate unanimously passed a bill that would prevent local police from using traffic-ticket quotas  State law-enforcement agencies are barred from using ticket quotas, but restrictions on cities and counties have not been so clear. Senate Bill 264, filed by Sen. Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island, would extend the prohibition to those agencies. Also, the bill would require individual local governments to submit reports to the Legislature if traffic-ticket revenues cover more than 33 percent of the costs of operating their law-enforcement agencies.

Bradley filed the measure in response to reports of police departments along U.S. 301 that implemented ticket quotas to generate money for their towns. Last year, the Hampton Police Department was shut down after a state investigation revealed the ailing Bradford County town was misspending traffic ticket revenue. In August, four officers from the Waldo Police Department came before the Waldo City Council in a bid to unseat their police chief by revealing that they were under a ticket quota.  Ultimately, the Waldo Police Department was shut down.

Bradley said he expects the Florida House to vote on the bill within a couple of weeks. After that, Gov. Rick Scott would sign it into law. He is confident that will happen and said it could become a law as early as July.

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