Nothing spoils a day like a parking ticket under a windshield-wiper blade or being pulled over for speeding.
“If there’s anything we do the public hates us for, it’s writing traffic tickets,” Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said. “And you want to make sure – if you are writing one – that it’s absolutely justified.”
Sometimes members of the public might wonder whether they got a ticket to make an officer’s quota. A new law, Senate Bill 3411, not only eliminates police ticket quotas, but it also prevents quotas from being used to evaluate an officer’s performance. The new law goes into effect Jan. 1 and applies to local, county and state police officers.
The law likely will not change things too much locally, as police departments said they do not have ticket quotas – and never did.
Police departments in Geneva, Batavia, North Aurora, Sugar Grove, Elburn, St. Charles, Campton Hills and the Kane County Sheriff’s Office will be unaffected, officials said.
“We have performance standards. We just expect officers to stay busy,” said St. Charles Deputy Chief Dave Kintz. “But we don’t dictate that we have to have a certain number of this or that. It’s not going to affect us at all, not really.”
“We’ve never had quotas,” said Elburn Police Chief Steven Smith. “It’s up to the officer’s discretion.”
Batavia Police Records Supervisor Tony Davis said everything a police officer does is recorded somewhere electronically, so how many tickets an officer writes does not matter.
“We measure everything,” Davis said. “I have to run stats from month to month … not just tickets. All aspects can be recorded.”
Sometimes an officer might write a bunch of tickets during a shift, and another officer would not be able to because he was at a three-car rollover accident all day, Davis said.
Perez said in his entire career at the sheriff’s office, there has never been a ticket quota requirement.
“It was always officer discretion whether a ticket or a written warning [could be issued],” Perez said. “All stops have to be documented.”
What supervisors at the sheriff’s office look for when evaluating deputies is not their number of stops, but a good amount of self-initiated activity, as well as what they are dispatched to, Perez said.
The bill had the support of police unions, such as the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, whose Northern Illinois branch is based in Western Springs.
“We believe quotas create unnecessary tension between the public and law enforcement,” states the group’s website, www.fop.org.
“Quotas turn police officers into tax collection machines instead of professional law enforcement officers. It distracts police officers in the exercise of their day-to-day law enforcement activities,” states the site. “Quotas interfere with police officers’ ability to develop positive relationships with the public.”
When Gov. Pat Quinn signed the bill into law last month, he said in a prepared statement that it would improve safety and working conditions for officers “and prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when they encounter a police vehicle.”