Do police officers have a quota for traffic tickets that must be issued each month? The average person would likely say yes. The average police officer would say no. The reality likely is somewhere in between. A quota is a very specific term, and as it is used, most police agencies will absolutely deny that their department has a quota for traffic tickets that must be issued. However, are there other incentives tied to the issuing of citations? As a traffic ticket lawyer in Snohomish, Skagit, and King county, I believe there is a distinct pressure on Officers to issue tickets when they otherwise would not.
A South Carolina lawmaker has proposed a bill that would address the quota system in all its forms. The allegation in South Carolina is that Officers are either required to, or otherwise encouraged to, cite a predetermined amount of people per day. This allegation is denied by the Sheriff, however a portion of the cities budget is based on predicted revenue from citation that have not yet been written. So in reality, there is a budgetary dependence on a predetermined amount of citations being issued. The new proposed bill would address the specific quota system and require that the budget only take into account money already collected, rather than predicted. This would in essence create a current hole in the budget for one year to determine that actual amount received prior to spending it. You can see the full article hear: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article54185675.html
Similar allegations can be made here in Washington. Predicted income is often used to balance a budget. This nothing new. However, the difficulty comes when there is pressure for State agencies to meet their predicted income thresholds. Agency budgets get based on it, staffing is based on it, and sometimes there is federal money that is received based on its use toward a specific goal. If less infractions are written, staffing and budgets decrease as well. When more infractions are written we see increased patrols, more staffing, acknowledgement within the department for a job well done, and in some case it may be reflecting in performance evaluations. So while there may not be a specific Quota system that requires X amount of tickets be written per shift, there is certainly incentive to issues the tickets.
With the budget crisis still in full effect for many cities and counties, don’t expect to be let off with a warning. Have your insurance, registration and Driver’s License easily accessible and politely hand it to the Officer when requested. Do not admit to anything, speed relate or otherwise. A common questions an Officer will ask is, “do you know how fast you were going?” My suggestion is to either politely decline to answer or simply say that you are not aware. Anything you say can be used against you at an infraction hearing and often your own words can be the worst evidence against you. If you have been cited for a speeding ticket in Snohomish County, King County, Lynnwood, Everett, Monroe or another area in Western Washington, call the Law Firm of Lucas D. McWethy for a free consultation with a skilled traffic ticket lawyer. Or for more information visit my website at www.tickets-dismissed.com.