OPINION – I generally support our local law enforcement. These are generally good men and women, putting themselves in harm’s way for little pay, to serve and protect the community.
But, today, I do not support a police administration that directs behavior that many states have outlawed, and have instilled a controversial program that entices officers to cite and arrest its citizens based on a monthly point system.
I am talking about quotas.
The administration won’t call it a “quota,” because the term and instigation of a “quota” is everything law enforcement should not be, a city revenue builder.
You can’t call it a “Key Performance Indicator” and alter or obfuscate what it is, a quota mandate.
And that is precisely what Washington City Police Department is doing.
This “Key Performance Indicator” sets criteria on which a police officer is evaluated for the job he is doing. According to a document, issued by the Washington City Police Department, different types of arrests and citations are given values or points, and a police officer must perform 133 points in order to avoid counseling from a sergeant, a written documented warning about their performance or worse, a corrective action plan to deal with the specific recurring issue. See the full document here: Washington City Police Department Key Performance Indicators.
In April 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that a California jury awarded $2 million to two Los Angeles Police Department officers who had complained against the use of quotas and then retaliated against by LAPD administration and fellow officers. LAPD argued that there was no official quota but rather a “goal” of arrests and part of a job performance evaluation.
Lawsuits and accusations have been cropping up around the country in cities such as New York, Memphis, and Elmore City, Okla., regarding police officers who have accused their administrations of implementing quotas to which their administrations will not admit.
The revenue from these arrests and citations is part of a budget that was already in place from 2011-12’s fiscal year projected numbers, a budget that the law enforcement arguably must bring in.
The city is banking on the residents breaking the law.
Following are items of the point system assigned to police action:
A DUI arrest for driving while intoxicated: 10 points.
An arrest: 6 points.
A citation: 3 points.
A self initiated program/procedure that is adopted by the Department: 25 points.
Is the Washington City Police Department telling us that the best way to gauge how a police officer performs is by the mere number of arrests they make and citations they hand out?
When an officer is penalized or punished for not making the “recommended” quota for citations, it is a “quota” regardless of the name they slap on it. When an officer is not meeting the 30-day benchmark for the number of DUI arrests, this is a “quota.” Utah lawmakers have been trying to get the use of “quotas” banned with bill after bill.
If Washington City administrators feel like there is nothing wrong with a quota, why would they go to the trouble of making sure the document outlining the point system was not put on Washington City Police Department letterhead? Or published?
Only in the fine print at the end of the document, does it go to the trouble to actually disclaim that it is an actual quota. Why the use of a disclaimer, if they think this is a good practice and deny it being a quota system?
To me, the language suggests an administration is trying to hide something.
Washington City is a small community with a limited number of officers. The thought that I am being issued a ticket based on the officer getting points for it to avoid penalties or to insure job security is not my idea of being protected and served.
If I deserve a ticket, I will take the consequence. Yet, these officers are pushed and encouraged to cite and arrest and we the residents are paying for it dearly. Our insurance rates go up – likely not only for the individual dings on our records but as the geographical area registers more incidents, thereby ranking higher on an underwriter’s risk scale. We have to take off work to go to court. We have to pay tickets that could have instead been issued as warnings, arguably a more productive means to the end goal of public safety.
It is infuriating that quotas are used to determine if a police officer has demonstrated satisfactory performance on the job. Officers need to demonstrate or exercise their ability to use discretion when they are dealing with the public. They should have the ability to use sound judgment on each and every stop that they make and the department should trust in them to do their job.
Are we being ticketed for going six mph over the speed limit, when that would normally be a warning because nonexcessive speed did not pose a threat to anyone else? Are more tickets given at the end of the month to meet the quota? Is that fair? Are we altering the role and judgment of our law enforcement when they are given incentives for giving more tickets?
If a department hires a police officer, then they should trust him or her to do the job. Period.
If a police officer has a history of complaints or if a police officer cannot show reasonable discretion in situations, then maybe the job is not for him or her and administration is free to determine to keep that officer or not. But a monthly quota that tramples on the rights of ordinary citizens to meet administration benchmarks does not encourage citizens to be more respectful of our local law enforcement.
Citizens, call your mayor, your city officials and your local police chief. Tell them you will not support this type of activity that the administration of the Washington City Police Department is engaging in. While the St. George Police Department may not use a point system, it does use a scheme of evaluation that may encourage citations and arrests as well. Ogden and Logan Police Departments are also accused of these “performance indicators” to reward or penalize police officers. Good police officers are generally not in favor of this because it can alter their actions when dealing with us, the public.
I believe in good police officers. They have my support. Let them do their job and serve in the capacity to serve and protect us. Let’s not use them as tools to capture revenue for the city.
Kate Dalley is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives morning show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are hers and not representative of St. George News.
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