UPDATE: Bill forbidding 'ticket quotas' in law enforcement passed Utah's Senate
UPDATE: The Utah Senate passed Senate Bill 154 on Wednesday, which prohibits police quotes throughout the state.
Passage of the bill will make Utah the 19th state to ban police quotas. Libertas Institute proposed the bill after research into several Utah jurisdictions discovered quotas were in force.
"Police officers did not sign up to be revenue generators for their cities. A quota policy that requires them to issue a certain number of tickets, or makes a minimum number of arrests, introduces injustice into the criminal justice system," stated Michael Melendez, director of policy for Libertas Institute, in a press release. "Ask the average person on the street about police quotas, and they're likely to express deep concern if not visceral opposition. The Senate's overwhelming support shows early agreement here in the Legislature, and we look forward to working with Representatives to see Senate Bill 154 gain more traction."
(KUTV)- A bill forbidding the practice of requiring law enforcement officers to write a certain number of tickets is moving through the state legislature.
Senate Bill 154 would make it illegal for any law enforcement agency to require officers to write a target number of citations.
Senator Howard Stephenson (R-Dist. 11), sponsored the bill after he said a handful of law enforcement officers have been complaining to him about the practice.
“We shouldn’t be policing for profit,” Stephenson said. “We’ve heard from many police officers from agencies that claim they don’t have quota laws, yet police officers say they are under obligation to write more tickets. Sometimes, it is part of their performance evaluation. Other times it’s an out and out quota. But in any case, it’s wrong.”
Salt Lake City Police Department supported the bill and denied ever enforcing quotas
“We’ve never in the history of SLCPD had a ticket quota program,” Det. Keith Horrocks said. “We welcome anything that would make transparency available to the public and the citizens and, certainly, we don’t have a problem with that bill.”
Eric Moutsos was on the SLCPD force from 2007-2014. He reported being told to write a certain number of citations.
“Everybody kind of knows that there are these quotas,” Moutsos said. “Our sergeant came and said we had to arrest five people per day. Misdemeanor arrests.”
When he did not meet his quota, Moutsos said his commanding officer lashed out.
“Several people from the squad heard me getting screamed at and then my name started to get tarnished within the police department.”
Moutsos shared a 2013 audio recording with the committee Thursday. In it, the sergeant said, “20 tickets a day you have to write. It’s just black and white ruler up there. It’s been that way for forever.”
Stephenson had also wanted to add a clause that ticket revenue would not go to the department that issued the citation, but that didn’t make it in the bill. Utah Highway Patrol already has this policy where the money they get goes elsewhere, to education and the general fund.
The bill will now head to the Senate floor.