South Carolina House votes to end ticket quotas

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/2/2016

A South Carolina bill that addresses concern about law enforcement in the state being pressured to write tickets has crossed over to the Senate.

House lawmakers voted unanimously to advance a bill from Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg, to bar departments from setting quotas for traffic citations.

Arizona, Florida and Wyoming considered similar rules one year ago. Florida enacted the protection while the Arizona governor vetoed a bill that would have rid the state of any ticket quotas.

Bamberg, an attorney for the family of a man shot and killed a year ago following a traffic stop in North Charleston, also wants to prohibit departments from using officers’ ticket numbers as part of evaluations.

Advocates say Walter Scott would not have been shot after being pulled over for a broken brake light if it were not for the North Charleston Police Department’s quota system. Officer Michael Slager has been charged with murder.

The department has denied the use of quotas. However, Slager’s attorney’s claim he was trying to meet his department-mandated quota for minor violations on the day of the incident.

Elsewhere, the entire police department resigned in one town south of Columbia due to concerns about quotas. According to published reports, officers in North, S.C., quit late last year over concerns that the newly elected mayor wanted them to write more tickets.

Bamberg’s bill, H4387, also protects employees who file reports that allege a violation of the proposed protection.

A separate bill from Bamberg, H4385, would prohibit local governments from approving budgets that depend on ticket revenue.

Supporters say the protections from quotas are needed for police who have too much pressure put on them, which undermines their ability to use discretion.

H4387 awaits further consideration in the Senate Judiciary Committee. H4385 is in the House Judiciary Committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for South Carolina, click here.

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