You might have heard the news that Illinois police departments can no longer set ticket quotas. This means that they can’t tell their cops that they have to write a certain number of traffic tickets in a given time frame. And departments can’t use the number of tickets a cop writes to review or evaluate their performance.
It’s good news. Ticket quotas are obviously there just to ensure that the city gets a certain amount of money in fines. The quotas take police away from more important things and turn them into fundraisers for the government. I haven’t heard a good reason for why quotas exist. I don’t see an argument that ticket quotas increase civilian safety or reduce accidents or anything like that. Traffic law enforcement in general has a positive effect, of course, but not quotas. They’re arbitrary.
I suppose you can now relax knowing that you’re no longer going to get a ticket just because the officer needs to meet an arbitrary quota. If you see them sitting along the side of the road, you know they’re not going to be looking for any reason to pull you over so they can get one more ticket taken care of. Obviously, I’m not a cop, so I don’t really know how big of a deal quotas were and how much they played into day-to-day policing in Chicago or any other city. Maybe it was mostly an urban legend.
Legally speaking, I’d say the new law is minor. If you break the law and get caught, then quotas don’t matter anyway. You would have gotten a ticket then, and you’ll get one now. The more I think about it, maybe the end of the quotas themselves isn’t the best thing about the new law. Maybe the best thing to come of it is some good PR for police departments. The idea that police departments had ticket quotas wasn’t doing anything to boost the reputation of police in our communities.
Overall I’d say it’s a win-win. Maybe it’s just a PR play, but nixing quotas for good helps everyone. If cops were working under the pressure of quotas, they’ll now have more freedom to focus on more important things going on out there. And Illinois drivers can know that if they get pulled over, it’s not just because of a random quota.
I guess the losers in all this might be the cities and towns if they take a revenue hit. Again, I have no idea how prevalent these quotas were. I bet it varied a lot depending on which town or city we’re talking about. It’s not like any of them can complain. If they did, they’d basically be admitting that they used cops to make money for them.
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