Ticketing Quotas are Prohibited in Illinois

Imagine: we're approaching the end of the month, and you begin to sense that the number of police cars on the road is multiplying with every day that passes. You note this observation to a friend only to hear, "well, you know, they have to meet their quota". Many Illinois residents probably have the same idea. Assuming that police officers have to issue a certain number of tickets by the end of the month, it would follow that officers must be out looking for reasons to pull people over when they're beginning to worry they'll come up short. Fortunately, Governor Pat Quinn signed a bill last month prohibiting this exact practice.

The law is effective immediately for local, county, and state police and aims to prevent police officers from being "forced to ticket motorists to satisfy a quota system," as Quinn stated. Extending to all types of ticketing (not just for traffic violations, but for tickets issued for any reason), police officers now cannot be held accountable for meeting a quota, nor can their job performance be assessed by comparing their numbers to other officers.

This new action has promising implications. It can provide relief to both citizens and police officers, as the pressure that can be created by quota systems can weigh on everyone involved. Prohibiting the use of quotas will allow police officers to feel free to use their judgment to determine when it is appropriate to issue a ticket instead of feeling a ticketing obligation; likewise, the public can feel assured that tickets are being issued for the right reasons and that they are not being targeted simply as a mark of an officer's productivity. As said by Rep. Jay Hoffman, who sponsored the legislation: "By eliminating these quotas, we can restore [the public's] trust and ensure that police officers are free to do their job protecting the public."

One downside of the law could be the difficulty of evaluating police officer performance. When law enforcement leaders can see data behind the work an officer is doing, it gives them a tangible measure of his or her productivity; without the ability to assess those numbers, that measurement may become tricky. However, if that loss means a more trusted police force, it is worth the challenge.

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