Do Police Have Quotas?

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on April 12th, 2005

DUI attorneys have long contended that many police agencies impose quotas on their officers for drunk driving arrests.  And police agencies have long contended that this is simply not true.  Imposing quotas, of course, has a coercive effect on officers to make arrests — even if those arrested are innocent.

Consider the following article from yesterday’s (April 11, 2005) edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

An Atlanta police officer reprimanded for not making an arrest for a week in one of the city’s most crime-ridden areas is accusing the Police Department of using a quota system to beef up arrest numbers, a charge department officials deny.

Officer Andrew Cerul filed a grievance with the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers in late March after he was transferred from day watch to evening watch. Cerul contends the transfer was made because he did not make an arrest during the week of March 13-19

Cerul, who did make traffic stops, was one of six Zone 3 officers written up for not making an arrest that week. Three of the officers were later excused because they were either in training all week or working the desk. Cerul and the others officially received “verbal counseling.”…

(Police documents) indicate a quota system exists in the Atlanta Police Department, according to Jon Calloway, Cerul’s union representative

“They [police officials] didn’t deny that the quota system existed,” Calloway said. “They said it was reasonable to expect an officer to make an arrest. I would hate to be the person on the last day who gets stopped by an officer needing an arrest

Calloway said residents have long suspected police of using quotas. “But this is the first time we have ever had a smoking gun. A document that we can touch and feel and say that it is going on,” he said. Police officials say there is no quota system….

Other big-city police departments have come under fire for allegedly imposing quotas.

In Baltimore last month, 27 officers with lower arrest rates were transferred to different departments within the Baltimore Police Department for failing to meet “minimum performance standards.” The action outraged City Council members and prompted Maryland legislators to consider a bill that would prevent a police officer from being punished, transferred or demoted for failing to meet a quota

In January, police officers in West Hartford, Conn., railed against a new department policy requiring the traffic division to step up enforcement.

Officers in Falls Church, Va., were required to write an average of three tickets, or make three arrests, during every 12-hour shift. By the end of the year, officers faced three months of probation if they failed to have a combined total of 400 tickets or arrests….


(Thanks to William C. Head, Esq., of Atlanta.)

Share