A QUOTA BY ANY OTHER NAME STILL SMELLS AS BAD
Sorry to bastardize Shakespeare, but it was fitting for today’s blog. There is a common belief that South Florida traffic officers have quotas that they have to meet. If someone gets a Broward speeding ticket at the end of the month, for example, the person will assume that the officer only handed it out to meet his or her monthly ticket quota. We hear about this issue a lot in our office. The implication is that our client would not need the services of a Florida traffic ticket lawyer, me, if the police officer was not forced to meet a quota.
If you ask any Florida police department, they will tell you that their officers do not have traffic ticket quotas. They might even tell you that quotas are illegal under Florida law, which is partially true. Florida prohibits state agencies from establishing any type of ticket quotas, but the law is silent on whether municipal and county agencies, such as local police departments, can have ticket quotas.
Quotas: HARD vs. SOFT
The disconnect between the general public and the police departments themselves is probably one of semantics. Officers in Broward County are probably not mandated to give out a certain number of Broward speeding tickets. They probably do not have hard quotas. What they have are soft quotas. Police departments expect that their officers will hand out a certain number of tickets per shift. Whether or not an officer does that will factor into performance reviews and promotions. We know this happens. We know it happens in South Florida. We know it because the system leaked out in Sunrise a few years ago. Soft quotas are what they had. Of course, they denied that they were actually quotas.
In reality, however, there is no difference between a hard and a soft quota system. If a salesmen is told that he doesn’t have to average three sales a day but he will be evaluated on whether or not he does, you better believe that salesman is going to do everything he can to at least meet that average. To expect that it would be any different for police officers is crazy. Everyone who wants to keep his or her job is going to do everything possible to meet the minimum requirements that the boss hands down, even if those requirements are only soft requirements. Thus, whether Broward County officers have hard or soft quotas for Broward speeding tickets does not matter to the general public. In practice it makes no difference what police departments call their requirements for officers. It should be noted, however, that does not necessarily mean that a person who gets a ticket at the end of the month did not do anything against the law. The officers most likely are not giving tickets to people who were not speeding because of the quota. The difference is in whether or not the officer decides to enforce the law against a particular person or not. An officer trying to meet a quota is going to be less likely to give a driver a warning and more likely to stop drivers who are barely over the speed limit.
CAN YOU GET IT DISMISSED?
You are not going to get out of a ticket because the officer would not have given it to you if not for the quota system. You can still get out of the ticket though, regardless of the quota. You just need an experienced Florida traffic ticket lawyer working for you. Our firm has assisted many people who received Broward speeding tickets at the end of the month that they would not have gotten earlier in the month. To us it makes no difference when you got the ticket. What we care about is justice. I know that if I followed ANYONE on the road for half an hour, I would find dozens of traffic violations, mostly unintentional. Thus, I find it offensive when a client gets a ticket when he was not endangering anyone and the only reason is that the city needs money. I have seen a trend since the economic collapse on 2008 and it is not pretty. Cities and trying to get revenue from their citizens via traffic tickets, red light tickets and parking tickets.