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Our View: Ticket quotas now a violation

Published: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, Aug. 21, 2014 6:56 a.m. CST

We generally support a new law that makes it illegal for Illinois police departments to maintain ticket quotas, although few departments admit they existed and the law will be difficult to enforce.

We certainly support the spirit of the law, which is an objection to police officers being sworn to become revenue producers instead of to serve and protect. Police officers serve too vital a function in society than to concentrate their primary function on looking for opportunities to write otherwise law abiding citizens garden variety traffic tickets.

That’s not to say that traffic enforcement isn’t important. Driving under the influence, excessive speeding, distracted driving and other more serious moving violations are threats to safety and significant threats in a county with many suburban commuters and rural highways.

Sometimes written warnings are the more appropriate course for a burned out taillight or a minor speeding violation. Police officers deserve the ability to use their discretion in those instances. But if officers are incentivized by quotas, why would they use that approach?

There also seems to be some incongruity with the new law because many departments conduct special traffic safety enforcements through state and federal grants that often have ticket quotas attached to those grants.

We empathize with police chiefs who say a standard for tickets is important as one measure of whether individual officers are doing their jobs, but there are other ways besides counting tickets to make that determination.

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