Above the Law

Ticket quotas for traffic violations are illegal in the State of California. A police agency cannot force its officers to meet quotas on tickets, and police management must follow the law.

So, was Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck surprised that his officers in the Westside Traffic Division said they were breaking state law by enforcing quotas? He shouldn’t have been, because back in the ’90s I exposed the same illegal ticket quota system on CBS-2 News. The Commanding Officer back then said the same thing that Chief Beck said in his statement, that it’s “just a goal,” not a quota.

LA taxpayers have had to pay out $10 million to officers who said they would be punished if they refused to break the state law. Part of that amount was for legal fees.

Former LA City Council member and career LAPD motorcycle traffic officer, Dennis Zine, told the L.A. Times, he is “incensed that Capt. Nancy Lauer (who ran LAPD’s West Traffic Division at the time of the allegations) has been promoted.”

When the management of a police department asks its officers to break state law so the city can make more traffic fine money, they are creating a version of organized crime. Organized crime is a structured method of breaking the law to raise revenue.   Remember, Chief Charlie Beck says it’s just “a goal,” not a ticket quota.

Chief, if there is a law prohibiting horseback riding in a city park, would it be OK for your officers to call the horse a camel and say it’s therefore legal to ride the animal in the park?

Police management must never allow an officer to put himself above the laws that he has sworn to enforce. When I raised my hand as a military police officer and took the oath to enforce federal laws, there was no exception to the laws that I personally did not agree with. When law enforcement puts itself above the law there is no real law.