Utah bill to outlaw ticket quotas stalls

| 2/26/2007

A bill has stalled in the Utah Legislature that was intended to prevent law enforcement officers from going on ticket-writing sprees.

The Senate Judiciary, Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Committee failed to approve the measure on a 2-2 vote. Three members of the committee were absent for the vote on the House-approved bill that would have prohibited all law enforcement agencies in the state from setting traffic ticket quotas.

One lawmaker who did show up for the vote was the panel's chairman, Sen. Jon Greiner. Greiner, R-Ogden, also is the chief of police for Ogden.

Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden, previously told lawmakers he had firsthand knowledge that officers in Ogden are required to write a certain number of tickets.

"I was with (my) daughter and we got pulled over. I asked the officer if he's under a quota system. He said they really don't call it a quota system, it's more of a performance-based evaluation system," Hansen said at a recent hearing on the bill in the House.

As part of that system, the officer told him, he's required to write eight tickets a day.

Police chiefs, including Greiner, opposed the bill - HB255 - saying it would strip them of their ability to require reluctant officers to write tickets when necessary.

Supporters of the measure said there's a difference between telling officers to write a certain number of tickets and telling them to write all the infractions they see.

Hansen said that if chiefs have officers who refuse to write tickets, the problem is with the officers who refuse to enforce the laws - not the lack of a ticket quota.