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New WA bill would discourage traffic-ticket quotas for officers

(AP)

The perception that a police officer is giving out a ticket to meet a quota is one that’s held by many, especially after getting pulled over. A new bill seeks to mitigate that scenario by discouraging traffic ticket quotas for officers.

Sponsored by 6th District Sen. Jeff Holy, a retired Spokane police officer, Senate Bill 6316 aims to create an environment where officers are not being ordered to meet traffic ticket quotas. It stipulates that a law enforcement officer’s “evaluation, salary or eligibility for promotion must not consider the number of traffic infractions issued or the amount of penalties produced from the traffic tickets issued.”

Seattle police issuing fewest amount of traffic tickets in years

“This really is an integrity-in-law-enforcement bill that is long overdue,” said Holy, R-Cheney. “Many people believe that some law enforcement agencies order officers to issue tickets, which in effect creates a ticket quota system. This is damaging to the integrity of law enforcement as a whole in Washington. My bill aims to prevent that from happening.”

The Seattle Police Department issued 27,600 tickets last year for traffic infractions, which sounds like a lot, but that number’s been precipitously going down every year since 2015. That number is down 18 percent from the 33,000 tickets in 2017, and 43 percent when compared to the 48,800 issued in 2015, reports The Seattle Times.

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In presenting the bill, Holy noted that several other states have passed similar laws that prevent officers from being pressured to write a specific number of tickets.

“Several other states have recognized this problem and have addressed it, but Washington has yet to do so,” Holy said. “I’ve been retired as an officer for 14 years and I know we had traffic citation ‘productivity expectations’ when I was on patrol as far back as the 1980s. There is a reason why law enforcement officers have discretion. An officer’s ability to make an independent decision allows them to apply the level of enforcement action they believe to be appropriate for the situation. An officer being directed to apply enforcement action to comply with an employer policy or ticket quota reflects badly on law enforcement.”

The bill was approved by the Senate 47-0 on Friday, and goes on to the House of Representatives for consideration.

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