Tennessee Highway Patrol Ticket Quota Uncovered

The Newspaper
by The Newspaper

Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) troopers are punished for failing to issue a specific number of speeding tickets in at least one part of the state. Attorney Fletcher Long provided WTVF-TV with a copy of a memo THP Sergeant Clifford M. Babits posted on the wall of the Troop C station in Robertson County. “I can no longer justify fives on evaluations for troopers not producing activity,” Babits wrote. “I require three things. 1. Answer the radio, 2. Work your crashes, and 3. WRITE TICKETS. I take some of the blame for not properly motivating ya’ll in the area of activity. Overall activity last year (2008) was well below the district average… Because activity plays such a high part of an everyday road trooper’s requirement, it is going to weigh heavy on yearly evaluation scores.”

These scores, with ‘five’ being the highest rating, are key to winning promotions, extra pay and the most desirable types of assignments. According to the memo, scoring is based solely on the number of tickets issued, although other factors such as routinely failing to follow orders can result in a lowered score. Babits set six hundred tickets a year, or three tickets per day, as the bare minimum.

“Let me stress I am not putting a quota on anyone,” Babits wrote. “I don’t care if a trooper writes below the 600 mark, it is his or her evaluation score, not mine. If a trooper turns in 600 citations per year, his or her overall evaluation will not be above the average score of three… I must be able to justify giving a trooper a five. Low activity is a killer.”

It takes 800 citations per year, or four tickets per day, to earn the top score. A rating of four is earned by writing 700 tickets per year or 3.5 per day. Those who fail toexceed the average score of three are punished by not being allowed to earn time-and-a-half pay on overtime assignments.

“Effective immediately, a trooper that does not produce above average activity (17.5 tickets per week) will not be able to work grant overtime in my county,” Babits wrote.

Tennessee Highway Patrol officials deny any quota exists. Many state police forces use the average number of tickets written by troops or stations to encourage a steady year-on-year increase in the number of speeding tickets issued.

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  • Oldlt43 Oldlt43 on Jul 13, 2009

    I just want to commend Dukeboy01 on his comments as he has clearly painted a very valid picture of what conscientious parol supervisors have to deal with come evaluation time. It's always a battle to convince the town council, or a chief, that an officer's effectiveness isn't based on the total number of his/her traffic citations or arrests.I wish that I had Dukeboy01's ability to, as we like to say in court, "articulate" the scenario.

  • Bryanska Bryanska on Jul 13, 2009

    DHanson, I agree 100%. If the cops want to write more tickets in Minneapolis, I'd LOVE to see an increase in turn-signal tickets. Write 'em up! Thousands at a time! It could be like Ben Franklin's list of 13. Every six months, tickets are focused on a particular type of traffic offense: turning through a red light, turn signals, reckless lane changing, noise... Then every six months the public (and law enforcement) would be drilled in proper traffic laws.

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