Police Dept Busted for Contest to See Who Could Extort the Most Drivers and Arrest the Most People

arrest-contestBy Claire Bernish

Effectively annihilating law enforcement claims writing tickets and arresting people are matters of public safety, a Florida police department has been caught red-handed holding a contest offering a “reward” to the officer who generated the most citations and arrests.

Last month, as an internal memo obtained by Channel 9 revealed, the Winter Springs Police Department held this reward-based citation-production contest, likely to generate a bit of extra revenue by commandeering people as often as possible through legal state extortion.

Winter Springs police insisted in a statement to Channel 9 the memorandum was “meant to promote teamwork and camaraderie,” and should not be equated with any sort of “quota” system.

As Channel 9 reported,

More than 100 citations, warnings and arrests were made during the weekend of Sept. 10. A handwritten memo titled ‘Delta Shift Weekend Competition’ offered ‘points’ for everything from a written warning to DUI arrests that weekend. The ‘winner’ would get to float for a pay period and also a ‘surprise.’

Jeff Lotter, a former Orange County Sheriff’s deputy and a Florida Highway Patrol trooper who now works as a traffic attorney, admitted to the station officer discretion would likely be affected by the promise of a reward.

“I think a quota has a negative connotation: Meet this standard or you’re punished,” Lotter explained. “This is the inverse of that. The winner gets a reward, but it has the same effect.”

Quotas are, in fact, illegal in the State of Florida — but are often imposed in surreptitious methods to ensure ‘productivity’ and, as mentioned, increased revenue for a department.

“Does it happen in some places? Yeah, I’m sure it does,” Chuck Wexler, Police Executive Research Forum executive director told NPR of quota systems last year.

“On the one hand, there is an understandable desire to have productivity from your officers. But telling them that you want to arrest x number of people, you have to cite x number of people, it just encourages bad performance on the part of officers.”

Or, more accurately, bad behavior.

As Lotter noted of the Winter Park contest, some of the contest-induced September citations might have otherwise been mere warnings — in other words, for the duration of the contest, the police officers probably victimized only marginally guilty individuals.

“There are multiple citations issued to one driver,” he explained. “Generally you think about a major violation being issued, and warnings after that, so it definitely raises some questions.”

Channel 9 reported a single driver was issued a “$206 ticket for speeding, a separate $116 fine for failing to change his address on his license and a third fine of $166 for open container.”

Another received a $116 ticket for lacking proof of insurance and one for $131 for speeding — after having exceeded the speed limit by just 9 miles per hour.

Such ordinarily illegitimate — or at least highly questionable — fines don’t lend to confidence in policing, especially given the current evaporation of trust between law enforcement and the American public.

“If citizens believe that tickets are being issued or arrests are being made for reasons other than the goal of law enforcement, which is about public safety, then their trust in the legitimacy of the system is really eroded,” co-chairwoman of President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, Laurie Robinson, told NPR.

In the statement justifying the contest to Channel 9, the Winter Park Police Department said:

After receiving your inquiry, we discovered the document in question was drafted during the period of one weekend in September by a sergeant as a way to promote teamwork within her individual squad. The context of the document was meant as a way to encourage camaraderie among her officers. It does not amount to an enforcement quota.

Even despite statutory prohibitions, the Winter Springs Police Department has not and will not sanction enforcement quotas of any kind. In addition to crime prevention programs, proactive traffic enforcement is just one goal of reducing crime within any jurisdiction and we are continually committed to that cause. We will investigate this matter further and take remedial action as deemed necessary through that investigation.

So, essentially this Florida police department recognizes quotas as illegal, has found a way to thwart the law, and will investigate itself for any wrongdoing — undoubtedly finding nothing untoward in the arbitrary increase in tickets and arrests, even of potentially innocent people.

“I think they know they’re in the gray area,” Lotter said, “and I would encourage them to dismiss these violations.”

Claire Bernish writes for TheFreeThoughtProject.com, where this article first appeared.

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6 Comments on "Police Dept Busted for Contest to See Who Could Extort the Most Drivers and Arrest the Most People"

  1. Ticket quotes are required by all police depart. in this county.

  2. This reminds me of the former charges that used to be made against those drivers who warned other drivers that a speed trap was ahead. If the warning driver flashed his lights the oncoming traffic would automatically slow down before it encountered the speed trap, therefore the police would not catch speeding drivers and would not issue citations. If caught doing this, these drivers would be charged with obstruction of justice. I haven’t heard of such charges now for a long time. I wonder if one of the accused finally made the argument in court that he was assisting justice not obstructing it. He might have asked the court whether preventing speeders from travelling over the speed limit was obstructing justice or whether it was aiding the police in doing their jobs. Of course that begs the question of whether the job of the police is to make money for the department through fines or whether it is to slow traffic down to the legal speed limit. I’d sure like the hear the answer to that question.

  3. Let’s call these criminals criminals. Extortion is a crime. That makes these criminals criminal. Extortion is defined as the act of obtaining a person’s property or their signature, with their consent, under threat or color of official right.
    Now let’s look at the concepts of driver’s license, registration, and insurance. Under the concept of this thing called a constitution they can only regulate commerce. If you are not doing it commercially you are not within the definition of an operator or chauefer. Both are persons for hire.
    You are supposed to have the right to liberty not needing a government granted privilege to travel.
    Registration- Why do you have to give up your right to privacy by registering your property with the government?
    Insurance- If they can force you to buy insurance they can force you to by anything. These things all fall under the definition of extortion.
    Perhaps you don’t live in a free country any more. Perhaps you are at the mercy of criminals that masquerade as your government. Perhaps you had better learn what communism is. I’ll tell you in simple terms. It’s slavery to organized crime. Extortion is a crime. False imprisonment is a crime. Masquerading as government is a crime. And the list goes on. Criminals cannot represent government. Quit supporting organized crime. Learn the law and arrest these criminals.

  4. I think you meant for your lead to read “Effectively annihilating law enforcement claims THAT writing tickets…”

    It was a bit confusing to read at first because of that missing word.

    I’m a journalist, too. Not trying to nit-pick you, just lookin out.

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