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Va. police union wants to make ticket quotas illegal

The move comes after the union learned that a Virginia State Police official had urged five tickets per day

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By Suzie Ziegler

RICHMOND, Va. — The Virginia Police Benevolent Association is working with state lawmakers to draft legislation banning ticket quotas for police across the state, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The union says the Virginia State Police uses a ticket quota, with one leader reportedly telling troopers to write at least five per day. State Police initially denied those claims, but a department spokesperson later admitted that various offices set “average benchmarks,” according to the report.

“The reason we don’t have quotas is not because quotas are inherently a bad thing, but because they would not work for VSP,” said VSP spokesperson Corinne Geller to the Times-Dispatch. “Each VSP Area Office has different roles and responsibilities in their community. In addition, what a trooper does each day varies greatly. It would be nearly impossible to set a ticket quota even if we wanted to.”

Ticket quotas are already illegal in several states, including California, New York, Florida and Texas, according to the report.

“The quota system is definitely a good ol’ boy, outdated, ineffective form of policing,” said Sean McGowan, executive director of the Virginia PBA, to the Times-Dispatch. “It forces negative interactions with the public. Officers know when it’s appropriate to give a ticket and when to give a warning, but put a quota over his head, that discretion goes out the door — he’s more likely to write a ticket than give a warning.”

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An email obtained by the Times-Dispatch from Sgt. Eugene R. Desaulniers chastised troopers for not writing more tickets.

“It appears ... that many of you are not aware that we have returned to normal enforcement activity. Four, five or 10 tickets for a week of work is unacceptable,” Desaulniers’ email reads. “There is no reason you should not be writing five tickets minimum on a typical day (that’s one every two hours). If you are on free patrol, you should be writing more if you want to remain on free patrol. I realize that some weeks court, crashes, weather, etc. factor in but they do not justify the pitiful enforcement numbers I am seeing. Let me be clear that the evals you got for the last performance cycle took into account the reduced enforcement periods and that those same numbers will not result in similar evaluations for this cycle.”

According to the report, data shows that troopers gave drivers a warning or took no action in less than 25% of their stops, while other agencies let drivers go in more than a third of their stops.

The PBA hopes to get a draft of the bill language introduced to the state General Assembly. The language reads: “A political subdivision or an agency of this state may not establish or maintain, formally or informally, a plan to evaluate, promote, compensate or discipline any law enforcement officer according to the officer’s issuance of a predetermined or specific number of any type or combination of types of traffic citations or traffic arrests.”

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