Most of us aren’t reckless drivers. But we all make honest mistakes from time to time. And it seems like whenever we do — and sometimes even when we don’t — there’s a police officer just sitting there, waiting to slap us with an expensive ticket.
Paranoia? Maybe. Or maybe not. At police departments around the country, evidence has surfaced showing cops who were forced to give tickets as a way for their cities to make money.
One recent allegation came out of Atlanta this summer, when an internal police union e-mail leaked to a local news outlet. The e-mail indicated that if cops wanted pay raises, they’d better start writing more tickets.
“The mayor has designated traffic court/ticket revenue for future pay increases, Union President Ken Allen wrote to officers, calling it, “the first time ever that a revenue stream has been designated to salaries.”
Allen later told CNN that the e-mail was misunderstood.
“We’re not even asking anybody, or no one has made any suggestion, that any officer write any additional tickets than they already have,” Allen said. He acknowledged, however, that the mayor was indeed suggesting “earmarking” ticket revenues for officer pay raises.
Cut to Bethel Heights, Ark., several weeks later. An officer there provided a local TV station with a secret recording of his police chief, Don McKinnon, telling officers how to give more tickets because the number they were issuing was “way low.”
McKinnon is heard telling officers to manipulate drivers into committing violations.
“If I seen a vehicle, I could always find some reason to stop them, even if I made them do something stupid,” he says on the recording. “Hell, I’ll get behind or the other lane and I’d start crowding them. Kinda dirty pool but I got two or three arrests out of it.”
The city council in Bethel Heights fired McKinnon over the tape.
In Auburn, Ala., an officer alleged that his superiors set a quota of 100 tickets per month. Similar allegations have surfaced over the past year in Staten Island, N.Y., Novi, Mich., and East Orange, N.J.
But not all officers are happy handing out unnecessary citations.
Timothy Brasuell, the Arkansas officer who recorded McKinnon, said that every time he hears what his former boss told him to do, “I get nauseous.”
SOURCES: CNN, Arkansas Matters, North West Arkansas News, WSB-TV 2, AOL Autos