The age-old debate over whether police have ticket quotas is being renewed on Utah's Capitol Hill as a house committee advances a bill that bans quotas.
HB264 would prohibit police agencies from telling their officers to write a set number of tickets.
"They cannot tell their law enforcement officers to issue tickets within a specific amount of time," Rep. Neil Hansen, D-Ogden, said Wednesday.
But many law enforcement representatives denied there is a problem.
"South Ogden does not have a ticket quota," Police Chief Val Shupe told the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee. "We tell our officers to go out and write what they see."
Shupe and others in law enforcement said traffic and speeding is the No. 1 complaint that they get and they need to be able to tell their officers to go out and enforce traffic laws. The League of Cities & Towns has also expressed concerns about Hansen's bill.
"This bill is so broad, it also talks about warning notices," said Ken Wallentine, the Utah attorney general's chief of law enforcement, as he testified in opposition to the bill.
Ogden authorities acknowledged evaluating officers based upon tickets but said it was one component of the officer's total evaluation and not a quota. Yet Hansen's daughter, Jenny, testified that she was pulled over for changing lanes without signaling in Ogden and was told by an officer that there is a quota.
"We asked him if he had a quota system, and he said, 'I'd hate to give you this ticket, but I have to,'" she testified. "I felt a warning would have been most appropriate."
Hansen said he has had a problem getting officers to go on the record and say there is a quota system because they are afraid of recrimination from their superiors.
The most damning comments about quotas came from an ex-policeman. In voting in favor of the legislation, Rep. Carl Wimmer, R-Herriman, said he was told to write three tickets a day.
"I worked for a police department who had a quota, end of story," he said. "I was not given a promotion because I refused to write three tickets per shift. Quotas happen."He refused to name the police department. Lawmakers questioned if there was a perception problem among people who get tickets versus actual quotas but advanced the bill with only one member of the committee opposing it.