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11-19-08, 10:52 PM #1
The West Virginia Legislative Auditor announced yesterday that a performance review of the West Virginia State Police found evidence of ticket quotas
The West Virginia Legislative Auditor announced yesterday that a performance review of the West Virginia State Police found significant evidence that the agency imposes traffic ticket quotas to boost the number of citations issued. Nearly a third of all troopers involved in patrol duties statewide told the auditors that troopers are punished if they failed to generate a specified number of citations each month. In Troop 4, one of the six surveyed, 55 percent of the law enforcement officers admitted that they were under a ticket quota. The auditor confirmed this admission with documents, including a September 12, 2005 memo from Troop 4 commanders that ordered supervisors to impose a quota.
"Effective immediately anyone who does not have 100 min. contacts in the highlighted areas [should be given an] EPA-2 [performance appraisal] at the end of the month, or before if you see they aren't producing," the handwritten memo stated.
The emphasis on contacts in effect directed patrols away from rural areas and onto the highest volume roads to issue as many speeding tickets as possible.
"Here is the deal on our activity; a murder investigation is worth one point, so is one citation, so if they want numbers up, they tell you to go out and write citations," a trooper told the state auditors. "It all looks good on the outside. My (goal) a month is fifty contacts. Other troops are requiring 100 contacts."
This concern was supported by statistics that showed the number of investigations and arrests for misdemeanors and felonies remained relatively static from 2003 to 2006. Over the same period, however, traffic citations grew sharply year after year (page 25). Despite the increase in ticketing, the rate of fatal road accidents did not change significantly.
"We are in constant stress of not having enough 'contacts' for the month," a trooper wrote. "Numbers are stressed over criminal work. It's difficult to follow-up on investigations when you are constantly in fear of not having enough 'contacts' for the month."
Troopers who failed to keep their numbers high faced serious punishment that affected both their salary and quality of life. In Troops 4 and 5, those who did not issue 100 tickets received verbal counseling, negative performance appraisals, had their work schedules changed or were transferred involuntarily. The report pointed out that this procedure is not only unwise, it is unlawful.
"The Legislative Auditor is concerned that 20 percent of WVSP field troopers surveyed stated that the WVSP is using trooper relocation as a disciplinary tool," the report stated. "The Legislative Auditor is of the opinion that this belief is prevalent enough that it may be having a negative effect on field trooper morale. This practice, if occurring, is in violation of West Virginia Code Section 15-2-20 which states that 'A transfer may not be made as a disciplinary measure.'"
The auditors also slammed state police officials for trying to insist that the agency has no statewide policy imposing a ticket quota. These policies, the auditors suggested, are imposed in the form of "expectations for performance" that vary in different sections of the state. These expectations, in the public view, are the same as a ticket quota, which undermines public confidence in the state police force. The auditor recommended that the agency begin an internal investigation into the possibly illegal transfer of troopers. The report also recommended that officials review existing policies.
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