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NY Traffic Tickets: Are There Really Quotas?

We’ve all heard the rumors of it; Cops actively searching for drivers to bestow the dreaded traffic ticket upon in order to meet a quota. But while many have chalked this up to a simple rumor, evidence shows that tickets tend to rise at the end of each month. So is there some truth to the rumors after all?

Ticket Rates Shown to Increase 25% During Each Month

According to Jonathan Auerbach of the Daily News, who analyzed the NYPD’s statistics from 2013-2015, the rate at which all tickets were issued increased more than 25% between the first and the 30th of each month. Interestingly enough, each officer undergoes a performance review at the end of the month. Violations including double parking, faulty headlights, and tinted windows were documented as having the highest increase, while red light and mobile phone violations saw the smallest.

NYPD Statistics Show Two Monthly Ticket Increases

Additionally, looking at the state’s 77 precincts Auerbach found that there were two increases during the month – one at the middle and one at the end. In the beginning of the month less than 2,500 tickets were issued daily, but by the 16th of the month that number jumped to more than 3,000 before dipping and then increasing once again around the 30th. On average 44% of tickets are issued by the 15th of each month and with the exception of current inspection stickers, all ticket types that were analyzed showed an increase of 10%. However, the rate of reported collisions does not increase in the same way, nor does the rate of crime reports for “violation of vehicle and traffic laws” demonstrating a lack of a corresponding pattern.

Quotas Remain Illegal

In addition to Auerbach’s findings, NYPD whistleblowers including Adhyl Polanco and Adrian Schoolcraft have even caught his supervisor on tape discussing and setting ticket targets, threatening staff if they did not keep the numbers up. In an interview with NPR, Polanco accused the department of quotas, saying, “The culture is, you’re not working unless you are writing summonses or arresting people.” Despite these tangible findings, the NYPD has continued to deny that quotas exist, which makes sense seeing as how the practice remains illegal. (In 1979 then-Assemblyman Chuck Schumer advanced the traffic-ticket quota ban, in an attempt to keep officers focused on more important duties, rather than meeting numbers.)

Polanco and 11 fellow officers sued the NYPD, accusing their supervisors of carrying out arrest quotas “against their own minority communities.” Despite the concern that the NYPD is utilizing productivity targets, the real concern for many centers around true public safety and improving the quality of life for citizens.

Proposed Legislation Looks to Further Curb Quotas

Two bills looking to further curb quotas are currently in the process of being approved by the state. Bill A4201 would prevent an officer from being denied a promotion based upon not meeting a quota, while Bill S3548 makes a violation of the former bill a Class A misdemeanor. Currently, the bills are in the Senate Labor Committee. If passed they will proceed to the Governor’s Officer to be signed into law.

Posted in: Traffic Tickets