Sun City lawmaker rips into police ticket quotas

Phoenix • Calling the idea unfair, a House panel voted Monday to bar city police departments from telling police officers how many traffic tickets they are expected to issue each day, week or month.

The unanimous vote for HB 2410 came after testimony from representatives of several police unions who said it was a bad idea — and not only for the officers. Mike Williams representing the Arizona Police Association, said it also was not right to force officers to write citations on motorists when a simple warning will do.

Members of the House Committee on County and Municipal Affairs were not swayed by complaints by John Thomas who lobbies on behalf of police chiefs around the state. Thomas said lawmakers should stay out of an area which he said should be left to local control.

Nor were they deterred by arguments by Tim Reese, a lieutenant in the Tucson Police Department who said it would be wrong to describe his agency’s current policy of requiring a certain number of traffic contacts a day as putting a ticket-writing quota on officers.

“This is a performance evaluation,” he said. “It is not a quota per se.”

Reese said police administrators have a responsibility to the public to ensure that officers are out doing their jobs. He said counting the number of times an officer pulls over violators is one way of doing that.

But Rep. Rick Gray, R-Sun City, said no matter what you call it, it’s the same thing. He compared it to a practice of some plumbing contractors who are told by their employers they are expected to find at least $400 worth of repairs every time they go on a call.

“The whole concept of giving them a quota to say, ‘You have to give this many tickets’ to me isn’t saying ‘You’ve got to do your job well,’” Gray said. “It’s really saying, ‘We want this number of dollars of revenue from you.’”

Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott, was equally unhappy with the practice.

“Quotas are never a good thing unless you’re manufacturing widgets,” she said. “And that’s not what our police officers are doing.”