New legislation in the Alabama House of Representatives seeks to remove quotas for traffic citations.

Rep. Andrew Sorrell (Muscle Shoals) has introduced HB129 to the Alabama legislature. HB129 is a bill that would ban law enforcement from requiring ticket quotas from officers. The bill also seeks to prevent traffic citations from being a metric when considering career advancement and promotion for law enforcement officers.

Ticket quotas have been a hot topic in the country for a while. Nearly a decade ago, Justin Hanners, a former Auburn police officer, claimed that he was fired for failing to meet his department’s quota.  

Several accusations have been brought against law enforcement agencies over the years regarding quotas. Often, the quotas have not been in writing and are either directly or indirectly alluded to within the power structure of individual departments.  

Some officers have come forward and stated that employee evaluations are backdoor methods of creating quotas when a department’s policy otherwise prohibits the practice.

In April of 2021, Kayla Walker, a 13-year veteran with the Richardson Police Department in Texas, made a public statement before the city council to expose what she called illegal activity.

“The Richardson Police Department has been illegally using quotas to evaluate and discipline officers,” Walker said. “Patrol officers are threatened with punishments for not writing enough tickets, arresting enough people, and making enough citizen contacts. The command staff does this under the guise of monthly productivity reports to compare officers to one another.”

Some departments in the state have contact quotas, stipulating that officers are required to make contact with a certain number of citizens within a designated period. HB 129 does not restrict or regulate contact quotas.

HB129 would also prevent any law enforcement agency from providing any kind of incentive or reward to a law enforcement officer for issuing a specific number of citations.  This would stop an officer’s career advancement from being determined solely by the number of traffic citations written. 

Several states have laws that ban ticket quotas, and at least eight states have introduced legislation this year to ban the practice. Some have speculated that repealing ticket quotas would prevent violations of civil rights and prevent corruption and avarice in law enforcement. 

The bill states explicitly that law enforcement agencies may still critique the job performance of an enforcement officer based on factors that include quantity and quality of work performed by the officer.

There are no stipulations for punishment or reprimand for any department that violates the bill, should it be passed. There is also nothing in the bill to address any unspoken or implied quotas that may exist in specific departments. 

Sorrell introduced identical legislation in the 2021 regular session, which died in committee.  

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