ONLY ON 9: A Ticket Quota In Arlington?

7:51 PM, Mar 20, 2012   |    comments
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UPDATE: Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott held a press conference Tuesday morning to talk about the memo called "Proactivity expectations 2012" featured in our story on Monday. Scott rescinded the quota memo, saying it was a mistake.





Scott also issued a new memo saying the first one was not intended to set quotas.  It also said they will be reviewing other internal documents and standard operating procedures to ensure they do not imploy specific references to averages, benchmarks of targets. 


 ARLINGTON, Va. (WUSA) -- WUSA 9 received a memo given to us by an Arlington County Police officer who did not to be identified.   The memo appears to detail a quota system at the Arlington County Police Department regarding speeding tickets, arrests, parking tickets and DUI charges.

"I always thought there was a quota system," says Arlington resident Elizabeth Sills. Now, a March 1, 2012 memo  WUSA 9 obtained from an Arlington County police officer, to Sills  confirms what she's thought for years. The internal police memo is from two captains to Patrol Division Personnel. The subject: "Proactivity expectations." That means the numbers of arrests, traffic summons, parking citations and DUI arrests patrol officers are expected to issue every month.



Sills says she's always thought that enforcement picked up and that more tickets were given out at the end of the month. Former Arlington resident Chris Baron thinks likewise. "I suspected they had a quota system because everyone knows where the police wait to give tickets, which always seems to pick up at the end of the month."

The memo says there is not nor has there ever been a quota for traffic enforcement, but it also says consistently failing to attain these goals could result in disciplinary action.

Greg Brice from D.C. is in Arlington, contesting a $45 parking ticket.
"I know it's wrong. The memo says if they don't meet the quota they get in trouble. I think that's why I got my ticket," said Brice.

While it's understandable a police departments would need to set productivity standands,  it can be taken too far, says Lon Anderson with AAA. He says there's a difference between having performance standards and a quota system, which is a problem.

Another memo came from Deputy Chief C Michael Dunn on March 1, 2011. It directs officers to check the county box instead of the state box for " violation of" to ensure that monies collected go to Arlington and not to the state.

Sills believes that proves police officers are being pushed to write tickets for money.

WUSA asked for an interview with police chief Douglass Scott, but was turned down. The department's public information officer said in a statement that memo was just a guideline and will not be considered a quota for enforcement. He also pointed out that the performance standards came from a cooperative efforts between command staff and personnel and not from the top down.

Quota systems are not only frowned upon, they are illegal in some states, including Maryland. Maryland banned quotas in 2006. A local Fraternal Order of Police official calls the practice highly unethical because it takes away police discretion, which he says is the only thing that separates policing in America with policing in other countries.

In response to our inquiries to the memo, Arlington county Police Department Public Information Officer Dustin Sternbeck wrote:

"This written correspondence is in response to your recent inquiry regarding a Arlington County Police Department memorandum that you have obtained. This particular memorandum, Proactivity Expectations 2012, was distributed to Operations Division staff on March 1, 2012 in an effort to maintain consistency amongst each squad. It should be clear that this serves as a guideline for Operations Division personnel and will not be considered a quota for enforcement.

The Arlington County Police Department uses performance measure standards for accountability purposes, as all employees of the department have expectations related to their position as a means to measure their performance and effectiveness . It should be noted that in this instance, the expectations outlined in the memorandum were a cooperative effort between command staff and Operations Division personnel. We recognize that there may be circumstances that prevent officers from reaching the outlined expectations and only those officers that consistently fail to attain these goals may be subject to corrective or disciplinary action.

Our performance measures are established to allow citizens, county managers and command staff to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of the police services provided in Arlington County. The specific measures in the memorandum were determined from shift averages, informal polls and discussions between squads and their supervisors. Additionally, each of these expectations are subject to modification through a review process.

In closing, the Arlington County Police Department is proud of the reputation it has worked tirelessly to earn as a fair, just and professional Police Department."

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