Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Outlawing Police Ticket Quotas

Senate Bill 3411 was approved by an overwhelming majority of the State Senate last week (57-1) and now moves on to the House. Here is what SB 3411 generally means for local governments if it becomes law:  Police departments may not use the number of citations an officer issues or compare the number of citations different officers issue as a basis for evaluating job performance. Departments may still evaluate police officers by their number of “points of contact,” which includes traffic stops, warnings, arrests, and other crime prevention measures. The lone Senate opponent, Tim Bivins, a former sheriff, expressed concerns that the bill would undermine police management.  Management concerns are also shared by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

IACP Executive Director John H. Kennedy issued a written opposition to the bill, stating concerns that it unreasonably infringes on a department’s ability to set standards and hold officers accountable to meet an objective minimum performance standard. The IACP also criticized that federal highway traffic safety funding could be lost if departments cannot hold officers accountable for issuing citations.

SB 3411 was amended the same day that Kennedy issued the opposition statement to now read that the quota prohibition “shall not affect the conditions of any federal or State grants or funds awarded to the Department and used to fund traffic enforcement programs.” The amended language suggests that if a grant program requires individual citation quotas, that an individual officer could still be given a quota by the Department consistent with the grant program. Yet even if such a quota requirement were given to an individual officer, the department seemingly could still not use failure to meet that quota as a basis of evaluation/discipline due to the bill’s language.

Another item of interest with the bill is that it applies to law enforcement officers at the state, county, and municipal level, as well as conservation police officers. Other local government enforcement officers are not included in the bill, so quota systems could still be used by public universities and colleges, transportation districts, etc., assuming that the unit of local government has authority to employ staff who issue such citations. Code enforcement officers are also outside the gamut of the legislation unless they are also police officers of the municipality.


Brad Stewart

Author: Brad Stewart