11/23/2006Massachusetts State Police Offer Cops Money for Tickets
Court system and insurance industry pressures Massachusetts State Police into giving cash overtime bonuses for writing traffic tickets.
Police unions are up in arms over a Massachusetts State Police offer of cash for traffic tickets. Under a program that became public last week, troopers are given a 1.5 hour bonus on their time sheet for writing a ticket, but only one hour for a written warning and just half-an-hour for a verbal warning. The move cuts in half the amount of credit given for the verbal warning and brings troopers half-an-hour closer to lucrative overtime payments for every ticket issued.
The Boston Herald reports that insurance companies and the courts had pressured police into making the move because both make millions from traffic fines. The overtime bonus payments can increase a trooper's hourly wage by 50 percent, or even double it during holidays.
Union officials in the Western and South Shore areas where the program is in place told the Herald that the program eliminates officer discretion and that, like a ticket quota, troopers are being threatened with punishments for failure to issue more tickets.
"I absolutely refuse to write tickets unless somebody really deserves it," one trooper told the Herald. "You think twice before you take $600 out of somebody's pocket."