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Gov. Quinn signs bill banning ticket quotas for police

Illinois Rep. Jay Hoffman D-Belleville speaks lawmakers during House Executive Committee hearing Illinois State Capitol Monday May 19 2014 Springfield

Illinois Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Belleville, speaks to lawmakers during a House Executive Committee hearing at the Illinois State Capitol on Monday, May 19, 2014, in Springfield, Ill. With two weeks to go in the spring legislative session, Democrats — who hold 71 seats in the 118-member House — don't have the 60 votes needed to make the 2011 tax hike permanent, largely because of reluctance among lawmakers facing tough re-elections this fall. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman) ORG XMIT: ILSP101

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Updated: July 17, 2014 11:24AM

Drivers will be interested to hear that Gov. Pat Quinn signed a law on Sunday prohibiting police departments in Illinois from requiring officers to meet ticket quotas.

“Law enforcement officers should have discretion on when and where to issue traffic citations and not be forced to ticket motorists to satisfy a quota system,” Quinn said in a statement released by his office. “This new law will improve safety and working conditions for police officers and prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when they encounter a police vehicle.”

The law, which applies to local, county and state police, is effective immediately. The bill applies not only to roadway citations. It includes anything for which police can issue a citation — ranging from parking and speeding citations issued by state and local police to hunting and fishing violations issued by Illinois Conservation Police, according to Quinn spokesman Dave Blanchette.

In addition to prohibiting requirements that officers issue a specific number of citations within a certain timeframe, the law also says a county or municipality may not compare the number of citations issued by one officer to the that of another officer to evaluate job performance.

“Arbitrary quotas on the number of tickets that have to be issued by police officers undermines the public trust in the police departments’ priorities,” state Rep. Jay Hoffman, D-Collinsville, who sponsored the legislation, said in the same statement.

“By eliminating these quotas, we can restore that trust and ensure that police officers are free to do their job protecting the public,” Hoffman said. “Using the number of citations is an outdated and ineffective evaluation tool. It doesn’t lead to better policing, it doesn’t lead to better use of taxpayer money and it doesn’t lead to better relationships with the community, all of which are challenges we face.”

John H. Kennedy, executive director Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, issued a statement in April opposing the bill that read in part: “While law enforcement executives strongly agree with eliminating the imposition of arbitrary traffic ticket quotas, the bill would also eliminate vital data-driven performance measures used to assist in the performance appraisal of police officers. . . . This bill would essentially strip from law enforcement leaders the ability to establish expectations of officers and hold officers accountable for certain minimum performance standards. There is no ‘one size fits all’ standard of performance for all police departments. Therefore, Chiefs need to continue to have the ability to establish performance measures and expectations specific to their individual agencies.”

A City Hall memo obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times in 2010 warns police officials that the city would “witness a dramatic decrease in annual revenues and not meet 2010 targets” if a slump in writing parking and vehicle-compliance tickets continued.

The memo didn’t explicitly ask police to boost tickets, but Mark Donahue, then-president of the Fraternal Order of Police, called the memo a “troubling warning that smacks of ticketing quotas. It sends the wrong message to the public as to what the real responsibilities of police officers are.”

On Sunday, a police source said: “From a police union perspective, the bill is a win. But from the perspective of management, who lose the ability to evaluate their people, it’s loss. They look at it like, ‘If you’re making an arrest every night, if you’re answering calls, those things are documented and show me you’re out there working. But if you finish a shift and don’t have anything to show for it, not even a parking ticket, that shows me you’re not getting your ass out of your car.”

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