BY World's Editorials Writers
Tuesday, February 05, 2013
2/05/13 at 8:59 AM
One of the long-held and cherished shared beliefs of motorists is that the speeding ticket they just received was the result of some shadowy quota system that requires officers to write a certain number of citations or face consequences.
As long as that belief has existed, law enforcement agencies have been denying the existence of quota systems.
Until now. Now the Oklahoma Highway Patrol is incorporating quotas - they're called "goals" or "standards" - into the performance ratings upon which troopers' pay raises and promotions are based.
Trooper evaluations will be based on a number of factors, including meeting standards for the ratio of contacts with motorists to arrests (usually tickets) as opposed to warnings issued.
The goals vary by area and time of day. For example, troopers in Troop L, which covers Washington, Nowata, Craig, Ottawa Delaware and Mayes counties, would have to make 39 arrests for every 100 motorist contacts to meet standards. Also in Troop L, troopers would have to make 12 to 29 DUI arrests per year to meet the performance standard.
OHP officials say the performance standards are part of the agency's effort to reduce collisions, a worthy goal. It's also true that ticket revenues go into a fund to purchase new patrol cars, which has been lagging of late.
But some troopers who spoke with the Tulsa World's Ziva Branstetter are unhappy with the new policy because it takes away their discretion in writing warnings instead of tickets.
"I think it's detrimental to the way that the public sees me," said one.
He makes a good point. Every motorist from now on who gets a ticket for driving a couple miles over the speed limit is going to remain convinced that it happened because a trooper had to make his quota.