Anyone who’s ever been pulled over and given a ticket, usually for some petty traffic violation or honest mistake, has probably suspected that something fishy was going on. Was the city just using its police to make money by writing as many tickets as possible?
Well, that paranoid suspicion turns out to be not so paranoid after all — at least not in Los Angeles, where the city just agreed to pay $6 million to 11 cops on L.A.’s west side who say their bosses forced them to write at least 18 traffic tickets per day, with 80 percent of the total for “major violations.”
If they didn’t meet the quotas, the officers alleged, they were denied overtime work, stuck with unfavorable shift schedules, denied vacation time and held back from receiving earned promotions.
Whatever money the additional tickets might have brought in to the city is most likely going right out the window, because yesterday’s settlement follows an earlier settlement in a similar case, bringing the bill to $10 million that city taxpayers must foot on account of the illegal ticket quota scheme.
Ticket quotas are against California law.
Despite the settlements, the LAPD continues to deny that it ever imposed quotas on its officers, saying instead that it called for “production goals” aimed at reducing traffic offenses.
“In an effort to reduce serious injuries and deaths, West Traffic Division made the decision to set goals for reductions of these violations,” said the city’s police chief Charlie Beck, in a prepared statement. “This was not a quota system under the law.”
Beck said that the city agreed to settle the case simply because to do so was “a prudent business decision.”
Officers testified in the case that they were transferred out of their regular patrol routes and sent to “cherry patches” — areas known for the likelihood of motorists committing violations.