If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now

A ticket quota is a policy that encourages or requires officers to give out a certain number of traffic tickets regardless of how many people are actually violating the law.

Here’s a quick roundup of stories from this year where ticket quotas were discovered around the country.


Washington State Police Use Ticket Quotas
Officials with the Washington State Patrol set numeric goals that encourage state police officers to issue as many traffic citations as possible. The effect has been a significant increase in the number of tickets written — 50,000 additional tickets were issued between 2005 and 2006. A Bellvue state patrol sergeant issued a memo ordering troopers to meet the accountability goals, writing: “No matter how many cars you stop, the goal… is 80 percent enforcement (tickets).” Those failing to meet the goal may lose vacation time or receive other sanctions.


Georgia: Speed Trap Caught Using Ticket Quotas
WGCL-TV reports that DeKalb County Police officers are told during roll call that they must issue 65 citations a month and make 25 arrests. Those on traffic duty must issue a minimum of 150 citations a month and make 11 arrests. Unlike in many states, ticket quotas are not illegal in Georgia.


Texas: Ticket Quota Memo Uncovered
Police officers in Midlothian, Texas received a written memo ordering them to issue twenty traffic citations each month. With more revenue, police officials believed they would be able to expand the small department. WFAA-TV in Dallas confirmed the quota’s existence through unnamed department sources, marking the second time this year a numeric traffic ticket quota has been uncovered in Ellis County.


Michigan: Community Protest Torpedoes Ticket Quota
A planned protest at the Redford Township, Michigan police station helped kill a ticket quota that officials had adopted last month. Since mid-July, township police had been handed one hour’s worth of overtime pay for every two traffic citations issued. This meant that a typical officer could pocket up to $21 in cash for each individual ticket issued. The Mary Church Terrell Council for Community Empowerment now plans to go after the ticket quota in Dearborn Heights. The Detroit suburbs of Livonia, Oak Park, Rochester and Trenton also depend on numeric ticket quotas for police.


Iowa: Police Chief Suspended Over Ticket Quota
The Pleasant Hill, Iowa city manager suspended the city’s police chief on April 26 after evidence surfaced that he had instituted an illegal traffic ticket quota. According to local police union leader Ron Zimmerman, 33, officers were being told to issue between five and ten tickets each month. A sergeant chided Officer Zimmerman on “the low number of tickets” that he issued. Although Chief William Hansen, 58, denies the existence of a quota, a Des Moines Register review of court documents shows the amount of ticket revenue has more than doubled under Hansen’s watch.

Denver, Colorado Ticket Quota Uncovered
Police officials in Denver, Colorado confirmed that they have placed pressure on rank-and-file officers to issue a minimum number of traffic citations. Since September, those that have failed to produce have faced disciplinary action. “We’re always looking at performance,” Denver Police Captain Eric Rubin told KCNC-TV. “If an officer is under the average set we might discuss it with the officer.” Rubin insisted that these requirements are not a quota. Instead, they are a “measure of performance.”


Texas: Police Chief Faces Ticket Quota Charges
The police chief in Red Oak, Texas faces charges that he imposed an illegal traffic ticket quota. The city council last week suspended Police Chief Donald “Red” Fullerton and Deputy Chief Stephen Anderson pending the conclusion of an outside investigation by a retired Fort Worth policeman. Evidence shows that the city’s police force began issuing a traffic ticket every twenty minutes during a severe budget shortfall. The police chief budgeted $3.4 million in citation revenue, which required each officer to issue 320 tickets a month. A bulletin board in the police station displayed how each officer measured up.


Utah: Police Chief Blocks Ticket Quota Ban
It isn’t often that a police chief can block the action of an entire state legislature. However, Ogden Police Chief Jon Greiner stopped a ticket quota bill aimed directly at him from being considered by the state Senate. Greiner, a newly elected state Senator representing the Ogden area, cast the deciding vote on the Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee where the measure failed 2-2. Representative Neil Hansen (D-Ogden) had introduced a bill that had passed the House to prohibit municipalities, counties, sheriffs and police chiefs from requiring officers to issue a certain number of tickets in a given amount of time.

All articles referenced were compiled from the archives of www.thenewspaper.com.
Click on the titles of each section to read the full story behind each of these situations.

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Leave a Comment

42 Responses to “If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now”

  1. James Young says:

    I am shocked, shocked I tell you, to learn that law enforcement acts contrary to law and public needs!

  2. michael harrington says:

    Ticket quotas/law enforcement…2 different things. Unlike donuts and coffee, this combination doesn't mix. Ticket quotas make law enforcement a scam and a rip-off. It should be illegal and unconstitutional. Law enforcement needs to be take seriously and with quotas you throw all that out the the window.

  3. michael harrington says:

    just a follow up…let me know people

  4. Hubcap says:

    I agree with Michael Harrington.

    It would be very interesting for the cops to add their input on this issue. It seems like they would see the whole idea of quotas as an affront to their law enforcement acumen. A quota says in effect "even if you are good enough at patrolling your area that there is no criminal activity, you must still find a minimum number of criminals." Obviously meeting that standard requires creating crime where there was none before.

    I've been on a few ride-alongs and I'm not naive enough to suggest that there is not an endless supply of dumbasses out there doing ticket-worthy stupid shit. So if there is plenty of crime to go around, the quotas are unnecessary, if not they are simply unjust.

    Also curious is the fact that the quotas apply only to traffic violations. If the issue really is about public safety and not revenue enhancement, why are there not quotas for the number of rapists caught or burglaries solved?

  5. F.S. Christensen says:

    The ticket quota has been a black eye to Police and Law Enforcement for a long time.

    The Department of Public safety or City Commission should invite Law enforcement Accreditation periodically. Accreditation is the most important part of making sure that policies and procedures are done properly. A form of checks and balance for law enforcement.

  6. Officer Josh says:

    Ticket quotas are illegal in most states, my state MD it is illegal. I dont agree with it either but we are told to do something so i usually do traffic stops for a while write a few tickets and on my way. i dont personally like traffic stops.

  7. Rob says:

    How about posting areas where quotas have not been upheld. How about in Massachusetts where a police union filed a grievance against the department for telling officers to write tickets. The court sided with the officers and ordered that departments CANNOT order or force officers to issue tickets instead of warnings.

    Publish both sides of the story here and be fair.

  8. George says:

    I worked highway patrol for many years and never had a quota for traffic tickets. Just doing your job you would initiate a certain amount of paperwork not only by way of traffic tickets but written warnings and written equipment checks where the driver would have to bring his vehicle to the station to have the repairs checked. If you're doing your job, and therefore earning your salary which comes from taxpayers, then you have to be producing something. It doesn't have to be by tickets but you do have to justify your existence.

  9. Law says:

    As a retired law enforcement officer we were not required to meet quota's as far as writing tickets in Idaho but when it came time for seat belt emphasis, we were required to write a certain amount of tickets per month to meet the requirements for the grants the department recieved from the government. (Grant money is used to buy uniforms, guns, training and so forth and in a small department it is the only way sometimes to buy the items needed as there isn't enough money to do that with the city budget) The goverment told us how many we had to write according to their guidelines. I always had a problem with the amount of tickets that were required for the size of town we lived in. I thought it was excessive.

  10. LEE says:

    Police Chiefs & Sheriffs get around the illegality of quotas by calling it "productivity measurements". But, something you might not believe…most units will chastise a member who writes too many (makes everyone else look bad and raises the bar). There's enough idiots out there to fill any quota, no matter how high, while giving a break to ordinary folk. Yes, I am in my 25th year of Law Enforcement and, yes, my wife and I have received tickets in the past.

  11. Ex-Cop says:

    Speaking as an ex-cop that hated traffic stops, I once wrote a ticket in the State of Wisconsin. I was a rookie and wrote the speeding ticket using a state ordinance number. I was promptly called into the Chief's Office and put in my place very quickly and told in no uncertain terms, that if I was to never write a traffic ticket using the state's number ever again, I would be fired. I was also told the reason…if a cop writes up the traffic ticket using the states numbers, guess what?…the state gets the money. If the ticket is written with the local numbers, the community gets the numbers. Who says police departments aren't in it for the money? Due to this nonsense and others, 6 months to the day of starting the job, I walked off in disgust and haven't regretted my choice ever since.

  12. JEA says:

    Quotas are and have been illegal since the 70's. It's another lavish "wives tail" that public likes to throw out there to gain simpathy for thier lack of responsibility and poor driving. Much like the the term "Clocking", which is also illegal in most states. Hey genious, how about doing some research before writting something the nation can read. That way the whole world won't know what a dumb ass you are. Oh by the way, it's not donuts and coffe anymore. That too went out with the 70's. It's now Starbucks Jackass!! Way to keep up on current events…ya lemig!!! Go follow someone off a clif!

  13. Hubcap says:

    By your logic, all of those stories quoted above are over 30 years old or they are outright fabrications. I'm pretty sure neither of those are the case. Perhaps they really are true and police departments are really using quotas and getting caught at it.

    Odd isn't it that police departments would do something that's supposedly "been illegal since the 70’s"? I guess in your world the police follow the letter of the law perfectly.

    BTW, it's "wive's tale", you know like a story? You may want to brush up on you writing skills before you call someone a "dumb ass" in print. Although I have to admit misspelling genius is a nice touch; it almost makes you appear satirical.

  14. James Young says:

    JEA writes:

    “Quotas are and have been illegal since the 70’s. . . Much like the the term “Clocking”, which is also illegal in most states.”

    Legality, which varies from state to state, has little to do with what actual LEO behavior.

    “Clocking,” can mean obtaining speeds with radio or light waves or by measuring time over distance by using a stop watch. It is certainly not illegal, otherwise, high school coaches would be going to jail in droves.

    In any case, the issue is not with how good or how poor the technology is (although poor technology should automatically make a prosecution case suspect), or even with the technology but with the efficacy of law enforcement action. How much change can we expect in key safety measures when law enforcement increases? The answer, of course, is zero. There is no correlation between speed limits or enforcement effort and fatality rates.
    ‘Tis better to be thought a fool than to post in public and remove all doubt, with apologies to Mark Twain.

  15. Mike says:

    JEA, are you a cop hater who planted that post just to make them look stupid?

  16. Charter Wells, Jr. says:

    The Virginia legislature passed an "abusive driver fee" law during its last session. The law mandates "fees" upwards of $3,000 for certain "abusive practices," such as failure to signal a lane change, in addition to the ususal fines. The stated purpose of this legislation is "to generate revenue." [Code of Virginia; § 46.2-206.1] Our tax-a-phobic legislature, then dominated by Republicans, did this rather than raising the gasoline or registration tax a few cents. Incentive for quotas now exist where none did before.

    The law applies only to Virginia motorists. So you out of state drivers passing through Virginia need not worry.

  17. MJ says:

    talk about quotas…have you heard of racial profiling? a few cities have been cited for racial profiling when issuing citations.

  18. Ralph says:

    We all know that this speed kills propaganda is been driven by money. Mainly by the insurance companies and police agencies.

    If speeding is such a problem why not raise the speed limits? Or even remove them. Then cops could focus more on other areas of traffic enforcement.

  19. Ralph says:

    You better believe it that quotas exist for speeding tickets. I will give you an example.

    In my home town a few years ago the local paper had run a help wanted ad by the local constabulary for the position of a photo radar operator.

    It stated in the ad that all the salary would be payed for with ticket revenue. Which I think was to be around $20,000 per year.

  20. Mark says:

    Josh, You don't like doing it? You know that it is wrong. Yet you continue to do the Governments dirty work.
    People like you who help the government rip us off are worse than the politicians themselves.
    I guess I can understand why you feel the need to enforce these quotas.
    Read this short article. Be sure to pass it on. http://www.ananova.com/news/story/sm_56314.html

  21. Officer Josh says:


    I dont like traffic stops because i prefer to do other things that are more important since i work in the city. I dont think its wrong its just boring to me. I dont consider it dirty work if the ticket is legitament. Now when i comes to a small town cop that writes you for doing 5 over that is rediculous but a state trooper who pulles you over for doing 85 in a 65 is perfectly just in his actions in my opinion.

  22. Mark says:

    The only speed limit that is legal is on the freeways. All other roads the speed limit must be set according to federal law, which states that all speeds must be set according to the speed that 85% of the drivers drive on any particular road. Yet 99.9% of the towns set speeds illegally just to get the money.
    Personally, I have beaten my last 3 speeding tickets by using that federal law. They throw my case out but it still wasted my time. I told the prosecuter that I would sue for false arrest next time. Now when I get a speeding ticket I plead not guilty, mail it in and they just throw my ticket out. They can't rip me off anymore so that is what they do.
    The police know that the speed limit they are enforcing is set illegally. Yet they falsely accuse 100's of people everyday.
    Some police protection.

  23. Barney says:

    Check out my website to see a copy of Booneville Ms ticket quota signed by the Chief of Police

  24. Joe says:

    Ralph brings up a good point about removing speed limits. What would happen is you HAD to drive on a road without a speed limit. You'd have to learn to drive according to conditions (the safe way) instead of simply staying under a limit. One of the problems created by law enforcements' obsession with speed limit enforcement is that drivers get to believing that as long as they are driving under those 2 numbers on a speed limit sign anything else they do will not cause an accident. It's a false assumption created by law enforcement. Around here if you don't speed you're unlikely to get a ticket for any other bad driving habit except running a red light. Running a red light is common sense. Speed limits are not so clear cut except in the eyes of the law. Many drivers break the speed limit but few are driving unsafely. There's nothing magic about those two numbers posted on a speed limit sign, except in the eyes of law enforcement. Speed limits are a contentious issue with many drivers and something needs to done in order to give drivers a more flexible approach to this problem. I never see that happening however because there's too much money in it for these municipalities. There's no incentive to give drivers a more flexible driving limit. The worlds worst keep secret is that MONEY has created this whole damn problem but I don't see any movement in any state to do something about it. We all know what the problem is….why are we so paralyzed?

  25. Joe says:

    JEA, there are NO law in Oklahoma making quota's illegal as of year 2008. Yes, I know, Oklahoma is about 50 years behind the times. In fact I'm wanting to have my representative to write one up but I want take into consideration all the things like performance reports that attempt to get around quota laws. I would like to make it as “air tight” as possible. It'll probably take a attorney to write one up. Sometimes I get to the point that I don't know why I should care, nobody else seems too. They'd rather get screwed once in awhile.

  26. James Young says:

    Joe, while I oppose quotas as much as the next person, I would put my efforts into revising the law as follows:

    My law would create the Oklahoma Scholarship Corporation (OSC), a public corporation whose purpose is to collect all traffic fines, administrative fees, court costs and any other statutorily required fees from all jurisdictions in Oklahoma. A citation resulting in fines in Tulsa or in Tushka would have the driver sending the fine and fees to the OSC rather than to the local court. It would be illegal for any citing jurisdiction to ever receive any money from traffic citations.

    The OSC would then invest in a permanent fund composed of stocks or direct ownership of private corporations (IOW, a huge portfolio) that would produce an available fund (from dividends and growth) that is used to provide scholarships to state universities and colleges.

    This would retain the economic disincentive for drivers (so beloved by LE) while simultaneously removing the economic incentive for speed traps such as Caney, Stringtown, et al. Of course, the immediate result would be the elimination of all those chickensh*t little speed traps, who would simply go bankrupt, making driving through OK easier and less costly.

    Look up your state senator and representative. While I reside and vote in Texas, my old OK reps were Sen. James Williamson and Rep. Ron Peters, both of whom have already been provided with this idea. Peters found the idea “interesting,” which could mean anything but speed traps were a concern when I presented this to him a couple of years ago. Enlist the help of a lawyer friend to write a complete bill.

    Ron Peters can be reached at (918) 749-2658.

  27. Charter Wells, Jr. says:

    Mr. Young,

    By law, all traffic fines in Virginia go to our state's public school systems. Consequently, there was no incentive for ticket quotas.

    However, that changed during Virginia's last legislative session when it passed a law requiring judges to add an "abusive driver fee" to any fine for a moving violation. The law mandates “fees” upwards of $3,000 for certain “abusive practices,” such as failure to signal a lane change. The stated purpose of this legislation is “to generate revenue.” [Code of Virginia; § 46.2-206.1] Incentive for ticket quotas now exist where none did before.

    The law applies only to Virginia motorists. According to today's newspapers, the law has done little to raise revenue. Nor has it done anything to improve traffic safety as witnessed by the fact that 2007 was a record year for fatalities in the 21st century.

  28. James Young says:

    Interesting. I suppose that there are few small villages in Virginia that aggressively enforce traffic law if they don’t get to keep the money.

    Several years ago, when I first developed the concept of removing the economic incentive from these villages – there are several dozen of them in Oklahoma whose very existence depends on traffic fines – I thought of directing the money straight to public schools, but dismissed that because the school districts would then be lobbying for lower limits, higher fines and more laws. That’s why I opted to use an independent public corporation that would have little incentive to lobby for more money and whose constituents – the college-aged public and their parents –would be too diverse to lobby for money that was not assured to them in any case.

    I find it amusing that Virginia’s efforts have backfired, causing more cases to go to court, lawsuits and the negative publicity ensuing from their heavy-handed new law. As you say, it did not work as intended.

  29. barneyfife says:

    ****Visit my website to read about the Police harrassment and ticket quota in Booneville Ms. Click on the first lint to see the Ticket quota ,The second link to visit my website and read more about the Sheriffs Dept and the Police Dept Harrassment on my readers also ……..

  30. […] there is no such thing as a ticket quota for police officers…. it’s a myth WRONG!!!! If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now Do Traffic Ticket Quotas Really Exist? NYPD’s Bogus Little Secret: Parking Ticket Quotas […]

  31. […] So don’t… Hey look this one even talks about one in Iowa, and one in colorado… Michigan? Motorists.org Utah… bNET Oh, here’s one from Austin, Texas, btw this is actual records from a Texas Court of […]

  32. […] and I for one think we oughta remind them who’s really supposed to be in charge of this country. If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now Ticket Quota Cover-up Continues with Pennsylvania State Police […]

  33. […] not anywhere else, Quotas are ILLEGAL, Just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean it never happens: If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now September-Texas: Ticket Quota Memo Uncovered Police officers in Midlothian, Texas received a […]

  34. Phil Mckrackin says:

    Speeding is just as illegal as quotas but you all still speed! Then you cry and complain how it wasn't your fault and the police were trying to fill a quota, picking on you or enforcing corrupt speed limits. Grow up!

    • TonyRouse says:

      Revenue is not and has never been the motive behind large speeding fines. The concept of deterrence is. As there are two type of deterrence [specific and general] specific that an offender might not repeat the behavior and general that others learn from the original offender's actions. So why are fines so large? “General Deterrence Theory” has three basic components [e.g., certainty, severity, and swiftness] and all three must be present for any general deterrence effect to occur. Continued.

    • TonyRouse says:

      Continued: With regard to speeding the certainty is the likelihood an offender will be caught-which comes from more officers, sophisticated radar and other measuring devices. Severity is why fines are so large, that fines must outweigh any gain of the offender’s action. If fines were minuscule, who would care if they get caught? The last is swiftness which means that the punishment must come in such close proximity to the offense that the "general public" can draw a connection between the offense and the punishment. For example: this is why the death penalty is weak, it takes way too long for our system to punish offenders quick enough thus it looses any general deterrence value on that aspect. Most do not even remember the offense by the time we get around to putting offenders to death for their crimes.

    • TonyRouse says:

      Continued: So I am being clear enough, heavy fines are simply a way to deter the general public from speeding in favor of simply slowing down. Of course the practice of assessing a greater fine for the greater the speed over the limit makes perfect sense. Once we reach the futuristic method of automated speed detection, who will speeders blame then? Officers, quotas, or governmental revenue? My finger points in a much simpler direction; straight at the offenders where it should. Speed does kill so why not keep people from exceeding road conditions, congested intersections, or poorly designed roadways as a way of saving lives. Anybody got a better idea I am all for hearing it. Till then, watch the signs and lines, if not, pay the fines-and yes, they are not cheap for a reason.

  35. […] The Miata in question was parked in the driveway, pulled to about where it always was. How much of it was hanging over the sidewalk? 2 inches! There was 2 inches of the bumper hanging over the sidewalk. Anyone walking down the sidewalk wouldn’t even have to make adjustments in their stride. Why ticket me for this? I’m guessing it has something to do with the rise in tickets being issued all over the U.S. to combat falling city budgets. […]

  36. Bob Knoke says:

    I've just been told by a city councilman that our Iowa Governor Clover has set standards including number of tickets issued, that if not met will result in a loss of some state funding for our police Department (Belle Plaine, IA) Is there anyone out there who can verify or refute this claim?

  37. Val C says:

    The police is NOT a tax-collector. Police is there to deal with violators of a law. Period. If you break a law,there may be a fine.

    HOWEVER, ff the government passes or enforces laws for the purpose of revenues, it is ILLEGAL AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL and the risk losing in the supreme court and having to refund ALL FINES. Laws/fines are there to protect somebody, NOT to bypass/substitude tax revenues. I hope somebody takes this up soon!

    We don't need more pissed off people shooting policemen. In the difficult economic times, police should be more understanding and soft, not to add $500 fins to already broke people.

  38. […] cop writing 2 tickets per day, averaging $200 a ticket, can generate $140,000 in one calendar year. If You Didn’t Believe Ticket Quotas Existed Before, You Will Now […]