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COLUMN: Ticket goals and quotas are ineffective at increasing public safety

By Andy Pierucci
On April 2, 2014

It is popular belief that law enforcement officials write more tickets toward the end of the month. This may not be true in every community, but it is clearly a reality in many communities across the country, including here in Cache Valley. Some believe ticket quotas are the reason for end of the month ticket spikes. Ticket quotas don’t increase public safety: They just fatten city and county coffers.

In 2006, State Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden, tried to pass a bill outlawing ticket quotas or goals in the state of Utah. His bill passed the House but was defeated in the Senate. Nine states, including Montana, Texas and Florida, have laws prohibiting law enforcement from setting ticket quotas. Utah should be number ten.

On Monday evening I attended a meet and greet event with Chad Jensen, a candidate for Cache County sheriff, at The Italian Place in Logan. At the event, the topic of ticket quotas came up. Jensen said the Cache County Sheriff's Department does not have ticket quotas, but ticket goals. Deputies are evaluated every year on a wide variety of items. One section of the performance evaluation is the number of tickets written each year. Jensen made it clear that it is not the most important section of the evaluation process, but is just in place to ensure deputies are actually working when they are on duty.

Ticket quotas are counterproductive to law enforcement. Police officers already understand the value of conducting traffic stops. The more stops they make, the more likely they are to arrest felons and confiscate drugs and illegal weapons. They don’t need a quota to encourage them to enforce the law.

I invite everyone who opposes ticket quotas to contact their city, county and state leaders. Make your voice heard. Our communities deserve law enforcement that is focused on public safety, not law enforcement dictated by arbitrary quotas. Our police officers and sheriff deputies deserve to be trusted to do their jobs without these asinine goals. If we trust law enforcement officials to carry firearms and protect our communities, then why can’t we trust them to enforce traffic regulations without ticket goals? Our city, county and state statutes should be reflective of the trust we place in the hands of those who serve our communities.

Andy is a senior majoring in political science. He is currently the vice president of USU Pi Sigma Alpha, a member of the GRC, the Secretary of the Utah Federation of College Republicans and president of USU College Republicans.

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