Utah could soon ban police quotas in traffic stops

SALT LAKE CITY -- A state lawmaker is proposing to ban quotas for traffic stops as a measurement for a police officer's performance and a city's money making.

Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, has drafted the bill that would prohibit police agencies from setting a quota in traffic tickets.

"This is all about revenue. It’s not about safety," Sen. Stephenson said in an interview with FOX 13 on Monday. "I don’t believe policemen should be looking to meet a quota on bad behavior. What if there isn’t enough bad behavior. Do you just have to make it up?"

Quotas are a touchy issue with some police agencies denying they engage in the practice.

"Quotas absolutely exist," said Ian Adams, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, a Utah police officer's union.

He said officers are often pressured by city managers and justice courts to write tickets they normally wouldn't. The FOP would support Sen. Stephenson's bill, Adams said.

"It’s a common sense approach to policing that puts the focus on community involvement and not revenue earning," he told FOX 13.

The Utah Chiefs of Police Association decline to comment on the legislation until they had read Sen. Stephenson's bill. It is expected to be unveiled in the Utah State Legislature at some point this week.

The libertarian-leaning think tank Libertas Institute claimed it had tracked a number of police agencies involved in quotas for traffic tickets.

"I think a lot of people suspect that quotas happen, they’ve never been able to pinpoint. And even if they’re not happening, to say in law they shouldn’t is a good idea," said Libertas Institute President Connor Boyack.

Sen. Stephenson said his bill makes sense for citizens and police officers.

"To put police officers in a position of having to assault -- in a financial way -- the citizens in order to generate revenue for a local agency is just wrong," he said.