Louisiana House panel OKs bill that would outlaw ticket quotas

| 6/2/2008

A bill nearing passage in the Louisiana statehouse is intended to prevent law enforcement officers from going on ticket-writing sprees.

The House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved a bill that would prohibit law enforcement agencies from evaluating, promoting or compensating personnel based on the number of tickets written or arrests made.

Sponsored by Sen. Joe McPherson, D-Woodworth, the measure – SB799 – now awaits clearance for consideration on the House floor. If approved there, the bill would head to Gov. Bobby Jindal’s desk because the Senate already approved it by unanimous consent.

The bill also would make it illegal for agencies to “require or suggest” to officers that they are “expected to issue a predetermined or specified number” of traffic citations on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.

McPherson said that although law enforcement agencies deny having ticket quotas, he has heard from police officers about the pressures to write tickets, The Times-Picayune reported. The problem is worse in towns that rely on fines to help support government, he said.

A legislative auditor’s report released last summer appears to validate the concerns shared by McPherson and others. The report showed that at least 15 cities had generated more than half their total revenue during a three-year period from speeding tickets. The top revenue earner was Baskin, LA. The northeastern Louisiana village claimed 87 percent of total revenue from speeders.

Three other cities also claimed at least 85 percent of revenues from speeding fines.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Louisiana in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor