1/24/2008Utah: Ticket Quota Ban Back on the Table
Utah legislative committee approves legislation that would ban ticket quotas statewide.
A Utah state House panel yesterday gave its approval to a proposal that would impose a statewide ban on ticket quotas. Representative Neil Hansen (D-Ogden) brought back the bill which had passed the full House last year, but was blocked by Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner -- who also happens to be a state senator serving on the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee. Hansen hopes his legislation will clear the Senate roadblock this time.
"This issue is not a new issue," Hansen said. "All this (bill) is doing is putting in statute that they cannot tell their officers to go out and write a certain number of tickets within a specific time.... It more or less lets law enforcement go out and do their job."
Hansen testified that officers had contacted his office to complain that they were under continual pressure to write traffic tickets instead of warnings. To avoid the word "quota," police management used the term "performance based evaluation." Hansen's bill would prohibit municipalities, counties, sheriffs and police chiefs from requiring officers to issue a certain number of tickets in a given amount of time.
Police officials testified against a ban on a practice that they denied has ever existed.
"We don't need legislation against what's not a problem," South Ogden Police Chief Val Shupe said, speaking for the State Association of Chiefs of Police. "South Ogden doesn't have a quota, we've never had a quota.... The issue here is not revenue.... Are they evaluated for their performance? Certainly they are. It's an evaluation process, but it's not a mandate and it's not a quota."
Ken Wallentine, chief of law enforcement for the Utah Attorney General also opposed the bill, offering a personal example -- "it's a true story" -- involving his mother's complaint about a "speeding problem" in her neighborhood. To help out, Wallentine issued an order to the local police department on her behalf.
"Would you please send a traffic officer to come out there to target this particular zone," Wallentine told the sheriff. "Now, do I know that he told the officers to go out and write tickets or not? I'm not sure... The very next day I got a phone call from my mother saying. 'Do you know officer so and so?' 'Yes, mother, why?' 'Well, he stopped me... in front of the house. It was the other people I wanted you to worry about.'"
Hansen's bill is now on the calendar for consideration by the full state House. The full text of the legislation is available in an 85k PDF file at the source link below.