Tennessee bill outlaws ticket quotas
05/27/2010 - 11:24:05 am
The House voted 97-1 to agree on Senate changes to a bill that would prohibit law enforcement agencies from punishing or rewarding personnel based solely on the number of traffic citations issued. The bill – HB2952 – now moves to Gov. Phil Bredesen’s desk.
“Traffic enforcement should be about public safety, not adding more money to government coffers,” Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, said in a statement. “Ticket quotas are just wrong!”
Law enforcement agencies would be blocked from using formal quota policies or even informal guidelines.
“This primarily deals with employees being awarded, or punished, in reference to a predetermined, specified number of citations,” Rep. Harry Brooks, R-Knoxville, explained to lawmakers.
Although law enforcement agencies deny having ticket quotas, Brooks said he is aware of quotas being an issue around Knoxville, as well as other parts of the state.
Rep. Eddie Bass. D-Prospect, cast the lone vote in opposition to the bill. He said the change would shield officers from punishment when they don’t write enough tickets.
“The wording in the bill is tying the hands of supervisors across this state. It gives an officer, who is not worth his salt, an out to sit there on the side of the road and do nothing,” Bass told lawmakers.
Burchett said the bill would not change enforcement efforts. It simply throws out the requirement that they go out hunting for speeders.
“Citizens should not have to be subjected to a ticket quota system,” Burchett added. “This legislation just clarifies for state law that this practice is not legal.”
While Tennessee appears poised to outlaw ticket quotas, lawmakers in states that include Illinois and Michigan continue to discuss the issue.
An Illinois bill would prevent local governments from using the number of tickets issued to compare the job performance between officers.
In Michigan, legislation is intended to close a loophole in state law that allows tickets issued to be used in evaluations of traffic enforcement officers, as long as ticket writing is weighed equally among other job criteria. Ticket writing in general still could be considered in performance evaluations.
By Keith Goble, state legislative editor Lnd Line Magazine