Residents in Arlington and throughout Virginia may have heard of a recent memo sent to members of the Arlington County Police Department. Though the county police chief denies it, the memo appears to set quotas for police officers. Specifically, the memo, which was called "Proactivity expectations 2012," appears to designate the number of speeding tickets, arrests, parking tickets and DUI arrests officers are expected to file each month.
Such a system is generally frowned upon and even illegal in some states, since quotas take away discretion from police officers, requiring them to meet particular numbers rather than assess each situation accordingly. Quota systems in law enforcement too often result in wrongful arrests and crowded courtrooms.
According to a local news report, the memo was made public by an Arlington County police officer who chose to remain anonymous.
The Arlington County police chief held a press conference and officially rescinded the memo. He said it was a mistake to use specific references to averages and to quantify arrest goals. The chief issued a new memo, indicating that the first one wasn't meant to set quotas. However, it was unclear how that could be the case.
Other members of the community expressed concern over the police employing a quota system, saying there was a noticeable increase in tickets and police activity at the end of each month. There was also concern that police were being pushed to write tickets and arrest people only to raise money for the county.
With these issues in mind, Virginia residents who are facing criminal charges will want to ensure that all of the rights of the accused are protected in court. After all, prosecutors need more than a charge and a suggestive police report to obtain a conviction; prosecutors must have evidence.
Source: WUSA9.com, "ONLY ON 9: A Ticket Quota In Arlington?" Peggy Fox, March 20, 2012