Police quotas for traffic tickets could be outlawed by state lawmakers

Following the passage last year of an Illinois law that bars police departments from setting quotas for traffic citations, other states are looking into similar measures.

Bills have been filed this year in Missouri and Wyoming. Missouri’s proposal would prohibit citation numbers from being used in officer job performance evaluation, while Wyoming’s would do away with quotas altogether. A New Jersey bill filed last year related to citation numbers and officer job performance was also filed and is still active, although no action has been taken since August, according to the state legislature Web site.

Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon (R), who introduced the bill, called it “good policy all around” that will “really allow police men and women to focus on safety and take the emphasis off writing tickets.”

“It’s unfortunate that I have to introduce this bill at all, but it’s a dirty little secret that some police forces are blatantly considering ticketing rates in the officer assessment process,” he said in a statement. “Not only is that a terrible policy, it diminishes the value of all that our officers do by turning them into revenue generating machines.”

Former Illinois governor Pat Quinn (D) said when he signed that state’s bill in June the legislation would increase public trust and “prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when they encounter a police vehicle.”

A similar bill was also passed by lawmakers in Oklahoma last year, although Gov. Mary Fallin (R) did not sign it, according to a review of the 2014 session.

Hunter Schwarz covers state and local politics and policy across the country for the Washington Post.