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Quota-Free Policing

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Quota-Free Policing

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
December 4, 2008


Should there be quotas for tickets and arrests in police work? Should law enforcement officers be rewarded for the number of tickets they issue or arrests they make? Is there a Success board at the McHenry County Sheriff's Department, where deputies who are the "Leaders" in ticket-writing top the list and get promoted based on their numbers?

If a deputy writes three tickets to a driver during a traffic stop, including arresting him and transporting him to the McHenry County Jail, is he a top performer? But what happens when that driver goes to court and two of the tickets result in no conviction and the driver gets Supervision on the third ticket -- meaning, if he keeps his nose clean for a few months, then even that ticket goes away? - although the fine and court costs are not refunded!

So the bottom line is - even though that driver was arrested and taken to jail, incurring time and expense of numerous deputies (not just the arresting deputy) - nothing really happened. And what if that arrest was the result of racial profiling?

What if a driver with a brown face drives past a deputy, the deputy runs the license plate and finds that the owner of the vehicle doesn't possess a driver's license, and then the deputy makes a traffic stop? The deputy doesn't really know that a violation exists, because he doesn't know whether or not it is the owner who is driving the vehicle. Is that a valid arrest, barring any actual traffic violation that gives the deputy "probable cause" to stop the driver?

Now the sheriff's department will put deputies through a "Quota-Free Policing" program. Why would something like this be needed, if procedures were not otherwise to start with? Have we been living with "Quota Policing" system up until now?

In McHenry County we have the Law & Justice Committee of the McHenry County Board. What does it really do? The composition of that Committee is changing, due to the recent loss of elected positions by at least two of its members. What interest does this Committee take in the operation of the sheriff's department? Any?

The Committee may be limited in what it can demand of the Sheriff, since the Office of Sheriff is an elected post.

We should want deputies (and police officers) in this County who enforce the laws fair, evenly, equally and impartially. Regarding traffic violations, there are so many now that no quota would be necessary. A driver with sharp eyes can detect many violations along every mile of roadway in the County.

So maybe we need neither quota nor quota-free policing. Policing will be just fine. Deputies know the laws. Once they are properly trained and supervised, there should be no problems with even enforcement. Supervisors should keep a sharp eye on those deputies who produce inordinately high numbers to be certain they are doing their job properly and within legal boundaries.



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