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Local News

'Arbitrary' quotas may become relic

Agencies say they don't require certain number of tickets

Most area police officials say they have no quotas, but at least one has reservations about a proposed law that would ban the use of quotas.
Most area police officials say they have no quotas, but at least one has reservations about a proposed law that would ban the use of quotas.

It's hard to find a police department that admits to requiring ticket quotas of its officers, but many drivers suspect they exist.

By nearly unanimous margins, the state legislature last month passed a bill banning the use of ticket quotas by police agencies at the state, county and municipal levels. It also would bar departments from evaluating officers based on the numbers of citations they issue.

Under the legislation, an officer may still be evaluated on "points of contact," which include traffic stops completed, arrests, written warnings and crime prevention measures. But points of contact may not include the number of citations issued.

The bill is now on Gov. Pat Quinn's desk.

"We don't have quotas," Round Lake Beach Police Chief Dave Hare said. "We enforce traffic, and we enforce ordinances. We look at how an officer is doing overall. How many calls do they respond to? How many tickets do they write? No one has been disciplined for the number of tickets they write."

The department, he said, expects its officers to go into the community to solve problems, meet with the public and enforce traffic laws.

"How do you correct the problem of traffic crashes at an intersection? How do you solve it without doing enforcement?" Hare said. "What if an officer writes just one ticket a month? There is a catch 22. Enforcement of traffic laws and ordinance violations are job expectations."

He declined to say whether the governor should sign the bill.

Lake Villa Police Chief Ronald Roth said his agency has no ticket quotas, but he, too, wouldn't say how he felt about the legislation.

"We encourage productivity and make sure the village gets its money's worth. We encourage officers to use discretion," he said.

Fox Lake police Lt. Mark Schindler said his department had no ticket requirements of its officers. But he expects the bill would cause a reduction in citations. And that could mean a decrease in officer training statewide, which gets a portion of ticket revenue.

"[Under the bill], management would not even be allowed to speak to officers about the writing of tickets," he said. "You're still going to have those guys who do what they're supposed to be doing. But I think there is a segment of my profession that will used this as their excuse not to write any traffic tickets. I hope they would pick up their activity in other facets of their job."

The bill, SB 3411, passed the House by a vote of 106-9 and the Senate by 57-1.

The legislation's chief co-sponsor, Rep. John Anthony, R-Plainfield, a former Kendall County sheriff's deputy, said the number of citations written by an officer should not be used as a job performance tool.

"We should trust the men and women of our police and sheriff's departments to use their discretion on when tickets are warranted," he said in a news release. "Public safety should be a standard, not arbitrary quotas."

Tickets, he said, get in the way of keeping public safety "the foremost priority for our officers on the streets."

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