Legally Brunette: Alabama Getaway (From Quotas)

Legally Brunette
by Legally Brunette
legally brunette alabama getaway from quotas

Please welcome my friend “Curvy McLegalbriefs” to TTAC; she’s contributed various background items and photos in the past but this is her first article from scratch for us. Miss McLegalbriefs has been a working attorney for some time now and also has a singing voice that is equal in range to mine but, rather embarrassingly for both of us, starts and ends about a half step below. — JB

The use of quotas in law enforcement has made the news again, but this time it’s a cop, not a citizen, speaking out. More specifically, a police officer claims he was fired for speaking out against quotas instituted by a new chief in 2010.

The town in question is Auburn, Alabama. The city proper has a population of almost 57,000, and Auburn University has approximately 25,000 students. The greater metropolitan area is creeping toward half a million residents. One would assume Auburn is NOT like The Truman Show, and that nonresidents are free to drive through town and break the law, if they so choose.

Obviously the jurisdiction of a town cop is the city limits. So what was this egregious quota imposed on these trusted men and women in uniform? One hundred contacts. Per month. Or approximately 5 per officer per shift. “Contacts” includes tickets, warnings, arrests, and even field interviews.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I must admit that my brother is a state patrolman. He’s one of the good guys, TTAC readers; I promise! (I, too, have served for a number of years in law enforcement, but at the federal level, and not as a uniformed officer. It’s my job to make sure my agency follows the law.) I have had the pleasure of going on more than one ride-along with my brother. He patrols the highways, in one of very few unmarked cars remaining in his state. Unless you do something really stupid, have an obvious violation (he is in a state where seatbelt is a primary offense, and after all the years he has been on the road, his ability to see a seatbelt violation across a 4-lane is truly remarkable), or his NCIC terminal tells him something about you that means you shouldn’t be on the road, he will not bother you unless you exceed the speed limit by at least 13 mph. In an average day, he probably has 10+ contacts. (Attempts to get an accurate number for him went unanswered…because he was working.) Going solely on my experiences in the car with him, I have to think that an average of 5 contacts a day is totally reasonable. Especially if it includes warnings and field interviews. So what is the real problem here?

According to the article, the quota requirement means that in a town of 55,000 (college students, who probably provide plenty of opportunities for law enforcement contact — especially on Saturdays during football season — apparently do not count), there are 72,000 mandated contacts in a year. One hundred per month is 1200/year. Doing some division here leads me to believe there are the equivalent of 60 full time police officers in Auburn. Supplemented, I presume, by an independent Auburn University police force.

Auburn PD has 1 officer for every 917 residents. To compare, NYPD (the largest police department in the country) has 1 uniformed officer for every 237 residents. Seattle boasts 1 officer for every 488 expensive coffee lovers. Daytona Beach, which is comparable in size to Auburn, has 1 officer per 253 NASCAR fans. Even Dubuque, IA, also comparable in size and not exactly a hotbed of criminal activity, has one sworn officer for every 632 hearty souls. Auburn’s police-to-population ratio is, in some cases, vastly out of step with other cities.

I cannot imagine that the officers in the departments mentioned above, and those across the nation, are expected to perform, to use a football analogy, an average of less than five law enforcement moves per shift. Maybe Auburn is Seahaven. Maybe even when school is in session. But somehow, I doubt it. If there really is so little legitimate police work that an officer cannot be expected to combine traffic stops, case interviews, and arrests at a pace of at least 1 every ninety-six minutes without resorting to “finding violations” or “bullying”, perhaps Auburn should consider reducing the force to a more appropriate size. With the constant growth and militarization of America’s police departments, a reduction in force would be a welcome change.

There are many complaints that can be made about law enforcement officers. Some of these guys (and gals) are complete and utter assholes. Others perform with honor, taking to heart their oath to serve and protect. The job should never be about quotas, especially when the department benefits from the revenue (which is not always the case — my brother’s DPS receives nothing from the tickets they write). Quotas, where they exist, should never lead to a situation where you end up with “a policy that encourages police to create petty crimes and ignore serious crimes”. But a quota set this low leads me to believe there are issues other than a minimal amount of contacts to be addressed within the department, like laziness. Unless this is a town with ridiculously low crime and a lot of kittens in need of rescue from trees, it is my guess the people of Auburn are better off without this guy in uniform.

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  • Scoutdude Scoutdude on Jul 27, 2013

    Years ago the WA state patrol announced that they were replacing quotas on the number of tickets a trooper must write with a quota on the number of "contacts" they must make. This after years and years of officially denying that ticket quotas existed. This is a timely article as today I noticed the end of month atttempt to meet their quotas. In two places, one about a 1/2 mile south, and another about a mile north of the station, officers were sitting appearing to be trying to catch red light runners.

    • See 2 previous
    • Legally Brunette Legally Brunette on Jul 27, 2013

      @David Hester Absolutely. Could have been any number of things. If only one of them could have helped the driver in front of me who didn't know that once in the roundabout, you have right-of-way. :)

  • Seabrjim Seabrjim on Jul 27, 2013

    Or maybe they were getting ready to set up a gestapo checkpoint for seatbelt violations and excessive Burger king wrappers on the floor.

  • FreedMike Race car drivers are all alpha-types. Aggression is part of the deal. I think you see more of that stuff in NASCAR because crashes - the end result of said aggression - are far more survivable than they would be in F1 or IndyCar.
  • Analoggrotto Only allow Tesla drivers to race, we are the epitome of class and brilliance.
  • Wjtinfwb When my kids turned 16 and got their Operators, we spent $400 to send both (twins) to 2 driving schools. One held by the local Sherriff was pretty basic but a good starter on car control and dealing with police officers as they ran the school. Then they went to a full day class in N Atlanta on a racetrack, with the cars supplied by BMW. They learned evasive maneuvers, high speed braking, skid control on a wet skid pad and generally built a lot of confidence behind the wheel. Feeling better about their skills, we looked for cars. My son was adamant he wanted a manual, Halleluiah! Looking at used Civics and Golf's and concerned about reliability and safety, I got discouraged. Then noticed an AutoTrader adv. for a new leftover '16 Ford Focus ST six-speed. 25k MSRP advertised for $17,500. $2500 above my self-imposed limit. I went to look, a brand new car, 16 miles on it, black with just the sunroof. 3 year warranty and ABS, Airbags. One drive and the torquey turbo 2.0 convinced me and I bought it on the spot. 7 years and 66k miles later it still serves my son well with zero issues. My daughter was set on a Subaru, I easily found a year old Crosstrek with all the safety gear and only 3k miles. 21k but gave my wife and I lots of peace of mind. She still wheels the Subaru, loves it and it too has provided 7 years and 58k miles of low cost motoring. Buy what fits your budget but keep in mind total cost over the long haul and the peace of mind a reliable and safe car provides. Your kids are worth it.
  • Irvingklaws Here's something cheaper, non-german, and more intriguing...
  • Wjtinfwb Happy you're loving your Z4. Variety is the spice of life and an off-beat car like the Z4 intrigues me as well. More than anything, your article and pictures have me lusting for the dashboards of a decade ago. Big, round analog gauges. Knobs and buttons to dial up the A/C, Heat or Volume. Not a television screen in sight. Need to back up? Use the mirrors or look over your shoulder. If your Z4 had the six-speed manual, it would be about perfect. Today's electronified BMW's leave me ice cold, as do the new Mercedes and Audi's with their video game interiors. Even a lowly GTI cannot escape the glowing LED dashboard. I'm not a total luddite, Bluetooth streaming for the radio would be nice and I'd agree the cooled seats would be a bonus on a warm day with the top down. But the Atari dashboard is just a bridge too far for me.