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2/25/2006
Texas: Houston Police Memo Suggests Ticket Quota
Houston, Texas police are told they must issue at least two traffic tickets every day.

Houston Police Chief Harold Hurtt
Police in Houston, Texas are required to get two "ducks" a day, according to an internal police memo issued by a northwest division police captain. "A duck is a traffic ticket," Houston Police Officer Johnnie McFarland explained to KHOU-TV. The policy outlined in the memo appears to run afoul of a Texas statute prohibiting the evaluation of a police officer based on "predetermined or specified number of any type or combination of types of traffic citations."

A Houston Police Department spokesman denied the memo amounted to an illegal ticket quota because a "duck" could also refer to other types of arrests.

"It's something we have researched quite a lot," Craig Ferrell, director of HPD's legal services, told KHOU-TV. "What we are telling our officers though, 'We expect for you to put a full day's work for a full day's pay' and part of that full day's work is traffic enforcement."

Dallas Police Chief David Kunkle has been lobbying the state legislature to repeal the quota law which holds officials accountable for misconduct by suggesting that removal from office is the appropriate punishment for violation of the statute.

Article Excerpt:
Texas Transportation Code
ยง720.002. PROHIBITION ON TRAFFIC-OFFENSE QUOTAS

(a) 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:
(1) a peace officer according to the officer's issuance of a predetermined or specified number of any type or combination of types of traffic citations; or
(2) a justice of the peace or a judge of a county court, statutory county court, municipal court, or municipal court of record according to the amount of money the justice or judge collects from persons convicted of a traffic offense.

(b) A political subdivision or an agency of this state may not require or suggest to a peace officer, a justice of the peace, or a judge of a county court, statutory county court, municipal court, or municipal court of record:
(1) that the peace officer is required or expected to issue a predetermined or specified number of any type or combination of types of traffic citations within a specified period; or
(2) that the justice or judge is required or expected to collect a predetermined amount of money from persons convicted of a traffic offense within a specified period.

(c) Subsection (a) does not prohibit a municipality from considering the source and amount of money collected from a municipal court or a municipal court of record when evaluating the performance of a judge employed by the municipality.

(d) This section does not prohibit a municipality from obtaining budgetary information from a municipal court or a municipal court of record, including an estimate of the amount of money the court anticipates will be collected in a budget year.

(e) A violation of this section by an elected official is misconduct and a ground for removal from office. A violation of this section by a person who is not an elected official is a ground for removal from the person's position.

(f) In this section:
(1) "Conviction" means the rendition of an order by a court imposing a punishment of incarceration or a fine.
(2) "Traffic offense" means an offense under:
(A) Chapter 521; or
(B) Subtitle C.
Source: HPD internal memo asking for ticket quota? (KHOU-TV (TX), 2/25/2006)

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