Perspectives: Keeping peace, keeping tabs, burdening officers

Police quotas | Image by Brett Barrett, St. George News

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.

Related post

Washington City police subject to monthly point system; quota?

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.

Email: kated@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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9 Comments

  • Dan Lester January 9, 2013 at 9:35 am

    No matter what you call it, what terms you use to obfuscate things, there will always be performance measurements in any job. If there aren’t performance measurements, the management is not doing its job.

    I grew up with police officers and fire fighters and know there have always been measurements and evaluations. And there always will be.

    How would YOU keep track of officers and what they’re doing. How do you know who is in the donut shop for a couple hours, who is on patrol, who is doing their job, who isn’t? I’m not saying number of citations is the only measure, and maybe more can and should be done with GPS technology, but an officer could be just driving around aimlessly not keeping his/her eyes open for problems.

    Of course one of the best deterrents to speeders is seeing the officer sitting in the median between exits 6 and 8. It is all too easy to come southbound on 15 down that grade from 8 and realize “oh my god, I’m going 80 in a 65”. Then I’ll brake, but slowly, because there is a triple tailgating me who is the one that really needs a ticket.

    Basically, we need to accept that things can be improved, but having quotas is not a magic answer, nor is not having quotas.

  • D. Rex January 9, 2013 at 10:04 am

    Quotas lead to profiling. Profiling leads to unwarranted stops (pulling someone over for a bogus reason).

    Our rights and freedoms are trodden upon when local Police employ tactics of the Nazi SS of WWII Germany or the overzealous Mutaween (police) of Islamic nations. How can anyone comment about the infringement upon basic human rights while embracing the same behaviors with their own police municipalities? Are we a free nation or heavily tyrannical policed community?

  • Dan Lester January 9, 2013 at 10:08 am

    I just checked the arrests listed on the link on this website. There were quite a few for warrants and such, but everyone of the ones that were traffic related were for DUIs, revoked licenses, and so forth. All are pretty obviously legitimate. No, this doesn’t show speeding or other citations, but I don’t see how anyone can argue with those that were taken to Purgatory. And I’ve had speeding citations in my life, though none in Utah, and I can say every one of them was well deserved.

    Maybe they don’t target me because I drive a “cop magnet”? (An orange Corvette) Right.

  • Former LEO January 9, 2013 at 10:31 am

    By now almost every SGPD vehicle is equipped with a GPS tracking device, so their supervisors DO know where everyone is at all times. I know first hand that when the economy went South, ticket writing was greatly encouraged. I know that officers are questioned when they are in one spot too long (this is also for safety reasons) . Believe me when I say SGPD keeps better track of their officers than most agencies, I speak the truth when I say there are supervisors out there that will follow you and watch your every move with a spotting scope, binoculars, etc. Having quotas takes away the discretion an officer is given with his badge,

    • kkkkrrrr January 9, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      Hmmm I would be curious to know why you are no longer and LEO. I bet you have an axe to grind.

  • DoubleTap January 9, 2013 at 1:59 pm

    As someone who spent 9 years in law enforcement during the 70s and 80s, it is common knowledge that every police department in the country DOES HAVE some type of “quota” system. Although these systems have various names…they are a quota. It is encouraged by the departments, almost to the point of being mandated. Every city has a Dept. of Revenue Generation (aka: police dept.). Do you really believe that a city could subsist on tax revenue only? I must say that the young drivers in this community are lucky that I am not an LEO in this city….I would bring in so much revenue by simply concentrating on young drivers who text and drive all the time. Those and all the red light runners who NEVER stop at red light before making a right hand turn….these drivers never even cause their brake lights to come on as they make that turn without stopping. There are alot of revenue generating opportunities out there if only the officers would pay more attention to drivers.

  • D. Rex January 9, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Lisa Steed / Utah Highway Patrol
    An example of pursuing quotas to achieve promotions. Might cost taxpayers a bundle of money.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/03/us/lawsuit-accuses-fired-utah-trooper-of-falsifying-dui-arrests.html?_r=2&

  • nathan January 9, 2013 at 3:55 pm

    If LEO’s are truly doing their jobs and behaving in a way that would make citizens respect them,then the measurement of effectiveness should be a drop in arrests and citations!But that doesn’t bring in revenue,so guess what? Its NEVER going to change.And that sucks.

  • nathan January 9, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    Instead of “Protect and Serve”, it should be “Enforce and Collect”!!!

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