Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Richardson Police vs City of Richardson

We've been following this story for almost a year. It was in April of 2021 that Richardson Police Officer Kayla Walker spoke at a City Council meeting to allege an illegal ticket quota system imposed on RPD officers. The City denied the allegation. Now Officer Walker and David Conklin have filed a lawsuit against the City. The Dallas Morning News and others have the basics of the story. The lawsuit itself can be found on the Dallas County Courts portal. It contains the details.

Boiled down, I think the case hinges on this claim from the lawsuit:

under the terms of Section 720.002 (a)(1) and (b)(1), this type of use of departmental or sector averages, that specifically provides officers the average of their peers and specifically informs the officer that failure to reach the peer average will result in a negative evaluation, is an illegal quota under Section 720.002.
Source: DC-22-03019.
"The Wheel" published many articles about this case last year.

IANAL, and I could be wrong, but I considered the last article to contain the "smoking gun," an excerpt from a performance evaluation that shows clearly that the Richardson Police Department did have a quota system for traffic stops for its patrol officers. The lawsuit itself contains more than I had access to, including allegations of adverse employment actions (harrassment and negative evaluation, and failure to be promoted).

The City Council wanted oh so bad to put this behind them after the law firm the City hired to investigate, a law firm that specializes in defending cities, not investigating them, found nothing illegal.

Councilmember Janet DePuy acted like the investigation isn't just the opening act of a play, but is the final curtain. Depuy said she was very happy to be "putting this to bed." Dubey also spoke of these charges in the past tense, saying he appreciated the process and was glad that there were no true skeletons found. Councilmember Joe Corcoran also seemed to accept the defense attorney's judgment as the last word on the legal question. He said "I'm happy that we're not breaking the law."
Source: The Wheel.

Chief Jimmy Spivey retired and Assistant Chief Gary L. Tittle got promoted. Even Officer Walker had hopes that, even with no admission of wrongdoing, the quota policy might be dropped. According to a December, 2021, interview of Officer Walker by Dave Lieber of The Dallas Morning News, changes were made.

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."

So why the lawsuit now? The lawsuit itself explains that no fixes are permanent, it seems.

Despite the fact that the Chief Tittle instructed that there are no ticket quotas, which did produce a short term reduction in the application of the illegal ticket quota policy, because the report never stated that the use of a “sector average system” was a quota, and because the Chief’s public comments reaffirmed the use of traffic stops as a measurement of police officer productivity, this short term reduction has been quickly reversed, and comparison to sector averages, and the numerical assessment of ticket writing based on using averages as a quota, still continues.
Source: DC-22-03019.

So, it's on to court we go, where the obvious failings of the City's own so-called investigation have a chance of being corrected in a proper court of law. It is to be hoped that the "independent and thorough" investigation by the City that the public deserved from the start will finally be provided by a court. Stay tuned.

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