Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Richardson Police Officer Reveals Ticket Quotas

The open mike at Richardson City Council meetings is usually uneventful, but Monday night's Visitors Section was different. A 13-year veteran of the Richardson Police charged supervisors in the department of illegally using quotas to evaluate and discipline officers. "Illegally" was her word, not mine.

She claimed that the quota system operates by evaluating officers' ticket writing against department averages, with under-performance leading to threats that an officer would "suffer." When asked what "suffer" meant, she says she was told it meant being placed on a corrective action plan with every-other-month inspections and meetings with command staff members, escalating to threats of "forced resignation." Besides quoting chapter and verse of state law regarding such practices, she also claimed that "quotas erode the public trust in the department." Apparently lacking confidence in resolving this through channels, she took her charges to the City Council and called on the City to take action.

This can go two ways. The City could live up to its much-publicized Transparency Initiative, in which it states that "The Richardson Police Department believes transparency is vital to a successful community-police relationship." This would require the City to conduct an independent, thorough investigation, with a public report of the findings.

If it turns out there's any truth to the charge, it's a big problem for the Richardson police supervisors and for the department as a whole. It's hard to get the public to rally behind a "Back the Blue" campaign if the officers feel that they have to make bogus traffic stops to meet some internal quota.

The other way this can go is the City can deal with it behind the scenes, with the public never learning the truth behind the charges or what changes are made to address the charges. The "Back the Blue" campaigns can continue, but there will be a few more citizens raising their eyebrows when they see the yard signs. Honestly, I don't know which of those two options I would bet on happening.

I wish I could say that the rank and file police officers are a sympathetic party in this controversy. But I can't. Why? Three things, off the top of my head:

1. I was surprised that an earlier police stop didn't blow up the local news, either when it happened in December, 2018, or when the Garland teen sued the City of Richardson in March, 2021. According to The Dallas Morning News, the teen's lawyer claims the Richardson police "contrived a bogus reason to stop him in order to search the pickup for drugs simply because he was a 'young Black man with a hoodie.' " Neither the teen nor his lawyer suggested it at the time, but now I wonder if perhaps a ticket quota system also played a supporting role in this stop. Any possibility that it did gives the jury a reason to side with the Garland teen.

2. Given that this week, former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin was found guilty of the murder of George Floyd, this week was probably not the best time for Richardson police to remind the public that Richardson police identified with the murderer when a cartoonist compared the murderer to Jim Crow police, the KKK, and slave owners. Not a good look for Richardson police, not then and certainly not this week.

3. Some members of the public (and by some, I mean, of course, me alone) chided the Richardson police union for endorsing Donald Trump for President, and then, chided them even more when they didn't retract that endorsement after President Trump incited an insurrection that resulted in the storming of the US Capitol and physical attacks against Capitol Police. That, too, "erodes the public trust in the department." If police rank and file won't back up the rule of law, or even other police officers who are doing just that, why should the public?

Despite all that, it's still an easy call for me on this one. Yes, for sure the City of Richardson ought to conduct a thorough and independent investigation. But Richardson Police, you should look in your hearts and decide, which side are you on, your own or the public's?


Mark Steger said...

In the blog post, I asked the City to conduct an independent, thorough investigation. There's no sign that will happen. It looks instead like the other option, conduct whatever investigation does occur behind closed doors, is more likely.

A second need, one that I didn't mention, is to hire a replacement for the outgoing Chief of Police, from outside the RPD. Promoting from within carries with it the risk of perpetuating a culture of illegal ticket quotas, whether or not that charge is eventually proven or not. Right now, there is doubt. Doubt that can only be removed by hiring an outsider with impeccable credentials.

ginnylaugh said...

Thank you for your salient points, Mark. There has been a call for an independent investigation. I truly hope that's what happens.
Ginny Laughlin ~

John E said...

This is so sad to learn. I have a number of Law Enforcement friends and the consensus I can gather is that Good Cops do not like Bad Cops. They all say that the issues we see today are the result of Bad guys at the top of the chain and I guess that makes sense. When you think of the pay and the risks involved in the daily duties one has to wonder if we can get the kind we need as far as recruitment.

Mark Steger said...

Dave Lieber of the Dallas Morning News has the story here: "A Texas police officer publicly accuses her department of breaking the law with ticket quotas".

Unknown said...

You only a thief when you got caught,this has been going on for a long while,I work close by the white Tahoe and blue charger are the worst,I never got a ticket, but it's still wrong.

TruthTeller said...

Fire the Mayor and the City Manager who ordered the Chief of Police to implement the ticket quotas for revenue instead of increasing taxes. The Chief of Police is a Department Head, he can’t hire or fire anyone. The Chief follow orders from the Mayor and City Manager or he will be replaced. These corrupt Mayors fleece and abuse the public, corrupt Chiefs of Police order illegal ticket quotas and the weak minded officers in fear of getting disciplined follow illegal orders. It happens in every state in the union.

Mark Steger said...

TruthTeller, anonymous comments are not allowed. There is at least one factual error in your comment. In Richardson the City Manager hires the Police Chief, not the Mayor. And there's one reckless accusation. There's been no evidence who ordered the ticket quota system.

Pat m said...

If all of this is true (and I do believe it) the city manager & ANY of the higher up officers should be fired and disciplined to the full extent possible. I volunteered with the dept for a number of yrs and found that the majority of the officers were ethical and professional. The whole dept should not be vilified for the actions of a few corrupt idiots!

Mark Steger said...

Dave Lieber provides an update to this story: "Meet this year’s inductees into the Watchdog Hall of Fame. They fought for you". "The good news, [Walker] says, is her department has a new chief, Gary L. Tittle, and he put an end to the onerous practice. She says, “They’re definitely not tracking these numbers any longer. So people have been thanking me for doing this. That has been a positive change with the new chief, which I appreciate.”"