Tuesday, June 17, 2014

No more cop quotas for tickets?

We’ve all made jokes at one point or another about having received a ticket for an offense so petty or miniscule that the only reason the police officer really bothered to write it up was because his municipality wanted the money – and not because we did anything wrong.

As in the accumulation of $100 and $200 fines from individuals that can accumulate to build up a significant part of some smaller communities’ budgets.

THE DREADED COP quotas for tickets. As in officers having to show they wrote up a certain number of citations, or else risk some form of professional discipline. Quite possibly even losing their job.

Well, it would seem that policy is withering away. Just this past weekend, Gov. Pat Quinn gave his approval to a measure that prohibits police departments in Illinois from having policies requiring their officers to issue so many citations.

Not that I believe the policy will completely wither away. I merely suspect it will evolve into some other form. There are still going to be police officers writing out tickets while those of us who receive them wind up gnashing our teeth in anger!

Under the new law, which received very little opposition from members of the General Assembly, police departments can no longer require a specific number of tickets to be written in any given time period. Also, officers cannot have the number of tickets they issue used as any kind of criteria as to how good a job they are doing.

QUINN, IN SIGNING the bill into law, said he thinks it means tickets will be issued because people actually committed some sort of offense worthy of punishment. Police will be using their judgment in issuing citations – rather than trying to ensure they meet their goal for the month.

Somehow, I suspect that those officers who already were writing out significant numbers of citations will continue to do so. It is their judgment, and they may well continue to see many things being done that violate local municipal codes.

So those of you with a lead foot ought not think you can get away with driving around as though the whole rest of the world is supposed to defer to you. You’re still going to run into the cop who’s willing to ticket you.

The rest of us will be safer as a result, because you’re the type of motorist that the rest of us wind up shaking our fists at while spewing a string of obscenities because of your thoughtlessness.

ALTHOUGH THE PART of this that catches my curiosity is the fact that many police departments already were getting away from using numbers of tickets issued as some sort of professional criteria.

I know of police departments that require their officers to interact with people in the community – and go so far as to require their officers to record each and every incident.

Whether it’s just answering questions from the public, checking into a situation that looked like it could become heated or actually finding something that is severe enough to warrant a citation or an arrest, they all account for something equal.

That might actually be a better approach, because it puts into the head of the police officer that he (or she) is supposed to be there to serve the public – rather than there to be the constant eye watching over the public.

BUT I’M SURE that even with this approach, there will be people complaining that the police are only around when you don’t need them.

Because the one thing I have always noted about law enforcement is that not only do they do a difficult job (people tend to die when they screw up), it is one that doesn’t get them much public respect.


No comments: