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State moves to drop police ticket quotas

2 months, 3 weeks ago by Bob Gough

Senate Bill 3411 also forbids police from being evaluated based on the number of tickets they write

The Illinois Legislature is moving to make it illegal for counties and municipalities to require law enforcement to fulfill ticket quotas.

Senate Bill 3411 also forbids police from being evaluated based on the number of tickets they write.

The measure passed out of the House Labor Committee on a 16-3 vote and now will be considered by the House.

Quincy Police Chief Rob Copley: "This is one if those bills that on the surface seems to be simple and straight forward. However it is not necessarily.

First of all, I agree that police departments should not have ticket quotas. The Quincy Police Department does not and I do not plan to. 
The largest concern I have with the bill is that it makes it an unfair labor practice to compare ticket and warning numbers of officers for evaluation purposes. When evaluating an officer, we look at all aspects of the job. Like it or not, traffic safety/enforcement is part of the job. Without a quota, you compare an officer's enforcement efforts to the shift or squad average. Basically, this bill would allow an officer to decide that he will never write another traffic ticket and there is nothing we could do about it.

Another issue is that while we, and most other departments, do not have quotas, IDOT traffic safety grants do. We receive the traffic safety grants to enhance our traffic enforcement/safety efforts. The grants require a certain number or tickets. When an officer works a grant detail he is expected to meet that requirement. If individual details fall short that is not a problem as long as the grant detail averages meet the requirements. We do not always meet our grant quotas. A continual pattern of this would keep us from getting future traffic safety grants. 
(Keep in mind that the IDOT quotas only apply to the actual grant details and not regular duty officers. Also, you will need to contact Curt Kelty if you want to know what those requirements are.)

I would support a no quota bill if both of these concerns could be adequately addressed." 

An amendment to the bill exempts Chicago from the requirement, because Chicago has its own system of oversight.

“We don’t need police having to give out citations because of results based evaluations,” said the bill’s Senate sponsor, Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill. “This issue has been around for years and I’m glad to see bipartisan effort to push it through.”

“I signed on as a chief co-sponsor because I think it’s the right thing to do,” said state Rep. John Cabello, R-Machesney Park. “We shouldn’t be telling police officers that they must write somebody a citation when a verbal warning or a written warning could correct their actions even better.”

Cabello said the legislation was a result of some Illinois mayors ordering police departments to write a certain number of tickets as a way to bolster revenues. 

“Police departments are not supposed to be revenue generating,” Cabello said. “They are there to correct people’s actions and arrest criminals.”

The state’s police labor union endorsed the legislation.

“Quotas create unnecessary tension between the public and law enforcement,” according to a statement from the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police. “Police want to enforce the laws and prevent criminal offenses but their own judgment is called into question by arbitrary quota policies.”

Not all Illinois police departments have an issue with quotas. State Rep. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, said his district did not experience any issues.

“The bill that we heard today in Labor having to do with quotas is not relevant to Madison County at all,” Kay said. “I got the feeling that there are problems in some places that the balance of the state doesn’t have. In my view, I think that if we have problems like that, we should deal with them in a case-by-case manner. What I don’t like is that Springfield has a policy of dictating what happens at the local level, whether it’s education, municipalities, police and fire. That’s not the way it is meant to be. Ultimately, I will probably vote for the bill, but I do think we may be overstepping our lines in what we do here.”

Similar quota laws on the books in 17 other states.

“I’m not much for quotas period, I think that if officers are doing their job, they’ll write enough tickets,” said state Sen. Mike Jacobs, D-East Moline. “But I also think cities ought to have autonomy to run themselves.”

Some legislators are against the bill as an example of state overreach in local affairs.

“Do any of you think, or want, state legislators to write the police department employee handbook for your community? If you have a problem with how your police chief is running the department, you should contact your elected officials and handle it at the local level,” state Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton said. “The last thing you want is a bunch of legislators from around the state telling your community how to run itself.  That’s exactly what happens now and it is the primary reason the state is in such a fiscal mess.”

Ives, however, recognized that nobody likes a traffic ticket.

“Let’s all admit that it completely ruins your day when the flashing lights come up behind you and you find yourself on the receiving end of a traffic ticket,” she added. “If it is the end of the month, a lot of us also think we are the target of a quota that the officer had to fill. We could be right about that or we could be wrong. Regardless, most of realize that we actually deserved the ticket and committed a traffic violation.”


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