Newport News police officer says there's unofficial ticket quota


by David Ham

Posted on July 23, 2010 at 4:59 PM

Updated Friday, Jul 23 at 6:11 PM

NEWPORT NEWS -- A Newport News police officer says there's pressure to write more tickets to meet an unofficial quota.

The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, says specifically in the Central Precinct, officers are being pressured to write at least one ticket a day or 30 a month to meet demands set by the captain.  The officer claims that some co-workers fear if their ticket writing numbers aren’t what’s expected it will affect reviews for promotions.

"It can have an effect if you're trying to move forward if you’re trying to move to another department," the officer stated.  "You're actually seeing these counseling sessions where it's being documented that you need to produce and it just does not feel comfortable with me or other officers."

Lou Thurston, spokesman for Newport News police department, strongly denies there's any quota for officers. He says there is not a quota or a "magic number" of summonses.  However, he did note that traffic enforcement "absolutely" plays into an evaluation.

The officer says the pressure affects officers’ abilities to use their discretion when writing tickets.

"It puts the officer in a bit of a predicament because he's got to go out there and try to produce those numbers and he may not be comfortable with all these stops he's making. It may have been a warning so we don’t have that discretion," the officer contends.

Thurston notes that traffic enforcement also produces a number of criminal arrests.

The officer said that he/she believes more drivers in Newport News will get stopped and ticketed rather than letting the officer use discretion and perhaps giving a warning instead.

"Right now, I am telling you we are writing because we need to, because it's gonna affect us," the officer stated.

13News asked the officer about the reasons for wanting to talk about the issue.

"My argument is that we all work in the field. We have many responsibilities. Patrol is not just making arrests and writing summonses. We handle calls for service, that's our biggest part that's our priority."