LAW & PUBLIC SAFETY

Bill Would Prohibit Using Ticket Numbers to Evaluate, Discipline Police

By Brenda Flanagan
Correspondent

“We’re calling these ‘Shame Boards’ that are being distributed and posted in police departments — basically highlighting officers who aren’t doing enough every month,” said Robert Nixon, director of government affairs for the PBA.

Police union officials claim “Shame Boards” list how many summonses each officer has issued. Even though New Jersey outlawed ticket quotas more than a decade ago, they say several departments across the state routinely list officers names and numbers and push so-called standards.

“A rose by any other name: you want to call it a ‘standard’? I will call it a quota. The officers behind me all have that pressure of getting out and writing the tickets to increase the revenue to the town,” said NJ PBA President Pat Colligan.

“Police officers are not ticket writing machines. Their job is to enforce the law, not to write tickets,” Nixon said.

The Policemen’s Benevolent Association called cops to Trenton yesterday to lobby lawmakers for a Senate bill that would restrict departments from using ticket standards to evaluate or discipline officers.

“The most egregious example I’ve seen is a municipality who is denying its officers meal breaks, changes in shifts, days off because they don’t write enough tickets,” Nixon said.

One document we obtained instructs, “Officers will choose their districts with assigned meal breaks each day based on their performance from the previous month (November). The officer with the highest daily average will select first … Report Completion, MV [motor vehicle] Stops, Arrests and Summonses will be used to formulate the selection order.”

“We have one town where it’s blatant. It’s in their directive from the shift leader, that they’ve got to write this many tickets, and they’ll get benefits. They’ll get first choice of breaks. It really is now running rampant,” said Assemblyman Declan O’Scanlon.

O’Scanlon is sponsoring the companion Assembly bill. He’s deeply critical of how some departments use ticket standards.

“Departments will use the number of arrests, number of citations to pit officer against officer is what essentially becomes a competition to get advancement, to get the best shift and other perks,” he said.

Documents from a different police department announces that a “…new evaluation standard will raise the minimum summonses required to receive a satisfactory rating in motor vehicle enforcement.”

“That is outrageous. That is a blatant ticket quota. They’re already breaking the law in existence today and it’s pretty disgusting,” O’Scanlon said.

Chief Raymond Hayducka a spokesperson for the New Jersey of Chiefs of Police Association stated, “How are Chiefs supposed to keep the roads safe if we can’t hold officers accountable that refuse to write summonses? We are opposed to any law that forbids a police supervisor from evaluating a police officer on their core function and duties.”

The PBA says when people complain about cops going on a ticket writing blitz at the end of the month, that’s possibly true. Senate sponsor Anthony Bucco says that has to stop. His bill was unanimously voted out of committee and heads to the full Senate for a vote.