7/3/2006South Carolina: Ticket Quota Caught on Audio Tape
Taped evidence that Cottageville, South Carolina officials threatened to fire a police officer if he refused to generate revenue through traffic tickets.
A Cottageville, South Carolina police officer captured a conversation where the police chief and the mayor threatened to fire him unless he issued more traffic citations to generate revenue. On November 22, 2004, Mayor Bert Reeves and Police Chief Ray Taylor summoned Officer Jeremy Shomber to discuss his "poor performance." Shomber's wireless recorder used to document traffic stops had been activate at the time and the entire conversation was recorded. An anonymous source later provided the recording to the Charleston Post and Courier newspaper.
"The main priority right now when you're driving is generating revenue," Taylor said on the tape. "That's in order to pay your position and yours is the lowest position. I'm just being point blank -- technically, I'm not supposed to say that."
Taylor and Reeves emphasized that details of the ticket quota -- one ticket per hour -- "needs to stay in this small circle." Shomber, a rookie officer, objected to the idea that he should focus his police efforts solely on writing traffic citations, but Taylor and Reeves insisted that they would fire him if he did not comply.
"I don't want to go around making people to be angry at me for doing something I shouldn't be doing," Shomber pleaded.
"If you're not writing tickets, you're not paying for yourself," Mayor Reeves said. "You got a chip on your shoulder. As far as I'm concerned you'd be fired now. I want someone to play on my team.... If you got canned today, and you had to go out looking you'd come back in a couple months and say you know what, I had it made."
In March, a Colleton County police officer ticketed Mayor Reeves for driving 103 MPH in a 55 zone. Listen to the exchange in a 2.8mb MP3 format audio file at the source link below.