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Bill would slam the brakes on monthly ticket quotas for Ohio law enforcement

Police officer in rear view mirror
Police officer in rear view mirror

Many law enforcement agencies say they don’t have minimum totals on traffic tickets that officers need to reach, but many drivers are suspicious. A bipartisan bill would settle the issue by banning ticket quotas.

House Bill 333 would ban law enforcement agencies from using quotas for arrests and tickets. And it would prohibit monthly citation totals, which can be labeled “goals” or “performance standards”, from being required or being used to evaluate, promote, compensate, transfer or discipline officers. The bill had a second hearing this week in a House committee.

George Sakellakis with the Ohio Patrolmen's Benevolent Association said the perception of quotas has "needlessly tested" the public trust in law enforcement, but he said the practice is fairly common.

“In talking to officers, it seems like, I would estimate as many as 25% -- and that's a very rough estimate -- are told to produce certain numbers or there will be some sort of consequence," Sakellakis said. "Gauging how many is very difficult.”

Leonard Mazzola is a former police officer who got a million-dollar settlement from the city of Independence near Cleveland in 2022 for speaking out about quotas, which he calls "unethical and immoral".

"No police department blatantly calls their enforcement efforts quotas. They're presented as goals, standards, minimum performance, performance standards, production expectations, etc. They exist in most departments and are driven by revenue," Mazzola said. “Quotas seldom exist in writing. More often they exist as unwritten rule, and they are prevalent. Agencies frequently providing monetary incentive based on tickets written, paying overtime hours for traffic enforcement.”

The Fraternal Order of Police supports the bill, as do advocates for changes in the criminal justice system, especially those affecting lower-income people and members of minority groups.

Rep. Kevin Miller (R-Newark) was with the Ohio State Highway Patrol for more than 20 years. He wanted to know what to say to a police chief who says quotas hold unproductive officers accountable.

"Get out of the office," responded Mike Weinman with the Fraternal Order of Police. "Get out from behind the desk. Go out and interact with your officers and see what they're doing."

"Police quotas do the opposite of improving public safety and in fact, prevent officers from focusing on larger public safety issues," said Emily Cole of Ohio Families Unite for Political Action and Change. She noted an analysis from the Brennan Center for Justice found "officers with arrest and citation quotas have a lower clearance rate for violent crimes."

HB 333 would require the attorney general's office create an anonymous form for officers to use to report the use of quotas, and would give his officer the power to issue a cease and desist order if a violation is found.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at kkasler@statehousenews.org.