Friday, May 16, 2014

"No Mercy, No Quota" (A David'Z RantZ Post from 3/30/08)


(Anybody who can tell me exactly what the title of today's post is referencing will win... Well, actually, you won't win anything. But I'll sure be impressed!)

By and large, I have a great deal of respect for policemen, state troopers, and others in the law enforcement field. It's pretty much a thankless job. And before you start sputtering "But... But... !" let me point out that I am fully aware that the profession has its share of outright jerks, as well as those who abuse the power granted to them by their occupation. But so does any job, if you think about it... or has every boss, manager, or supervisor for whom you've ever worked been a peachy-keen, dandy, upright individual?

I also do realize that someone with as much power as the police have over the regular citizenry becomes so much worse than the above-mentioned managers and supervisors when the power granted to him or her is abused.

I must also point out that most (accent on "most") of the people who mistrust or even hate policemen in toto aren't those who've been wronged by said abuses; most of them seem to be people with rightfully-guilty consciences, or outright criminals.

I don't envy anyone in their field. It must really suck to be a member of a profession which (for the most part) attempts "to serve and protect," as the saying goes, knowing that so many people inherently dislike you, distrust you, disparage you, and/or -- oh, just add any other "dis" word which you can think of, including the word "dis" itself -- simply because of what you do for a living.

It's kind of like being a child pornographer. Or a drug dealer. 

Or a person who works for the local cable company.

However, having said all of that...

For almost as long as I've been aware of what a policeman's role is in society, I have heard rumors of the dreaded "quota system." For the uninitiated among you, what this means is that each month, those employed by both the local and the state police are expected -- if not required -- to make a certain number of arrests, or give out a certain number of citations, etc., in order to "prove" that he or she is doing his or her job. I've known several people over the years who actually feel more comfortable committing the most minor of legal infractions (such as "sliding" through a red light, or jaywalking, or being slightly drunk and somewhat obnoxious as opposed to being all-out drunk and disorderly, etc.) toward the beginning of the month, rather than toward the end of the month, when the pressure to "perform" is on any officer who hasn't yet met this fabled "quota." (Talk about performance anxiety!)

And every policeman whom I've ever heard about or read about being (pardon the expression) quoted on the subject of quotas has vehemently denied the existence of this "quota system."

Really.

Really.

Really?

Shortly after I'd left work today, I turned my car from a side street onto Main Street, and within seconds, a police cruiser was behind me, his lights flashing, pulling me over. I wondered what I'd done. My registration and inspection sticker were both valid. I was wearing my seat belt, mandatory in Massachusetts. I'd used my directional (that's "blinker" to you colloquialists) when making the turn. I didn't even have time to increase my speed to one above the posted limit. Did I have a tail-light out, or had my rear license plate been stolen, or... ? Damnit, why'd he stop me?!?

He asked for my license and registration, of course. The usual procedure after receiving both items is for the officer or trooper to take them back to his cruiser and run a "check" on them, to see if I had any outstanding arrest warrants, etc. However, he didn't move more than a foot or two from my driver's side window. He leaned over my windshield slightly, checking to see if my inspection sticker was up-to-date. He asked why I was in that particular town (which is, as is apparent from the address listed on my license, not the town in which I reside), and I truthfully replied that I had just left work. He asked where I worked; I told him.

When he handed my license and registration back, he said that I had to take down the air freshener which was hanging from my rear-view mirror. Although I fully realized that technically, that's a law, I resisted the urge to say, "You stopped me for that? Are you stopping everyone who's got a graduation tassel, or a CD (I've never understood the significance of hanging a freakin' CD from your rear-view mirror, by the way. Anyone care to enlighten me?), or a dream-catcher hanging there?"

As I drove away, I smirked and thought, "Hmm. Almost the last day of the month. I wonder if he really has a quota to live up to?" But it was not merely the fact that I had been stopped for something that seemed (to me) to be so petty that sparked my curiosity... 

Nope. That came a bit later.

I didn't really take the whole thing seriously until later that night, as I ran several errands in the nearest "big city." In the course of three hours' worth of driving all over said city, I saw more flashing blue lights than one would see on any six Christmas trees in December. It made me wish I knew how many of those pulled-over cars had truly done anything deserving of a policeman's wrath.

Almost the last day of the month. Almost the last day of the month.

Total coincidence? I think not.

I wrote the bulk of this little RantZ entry but then decided to hold off on posting it in its entirety until I'd had a chance to question an ex-policeman whom I know about quotas. He said they definitely weren't an issue for patrolmen, detectives, etc., who deal with arrests and the like. He fell short of actually admitting that there was any kind of monthly quota for those officers and troopers who mostly drive around during their shifts. He did go so far as to say that any cop on traffic duty who returned to the station at shift's end with no citations to show for it would be asked "Then what the hell did you do all night?"

So. No end-of-the-month-type quotas, strictly speaking.

And I want to believe him. As the Cowardly Lion said in "The Wizard of Oz," "I do I do I do" want to believe him.

But... I just don't.

All I'm sure of at this point is that I'll feel a lot more relaxed as I drive my car during the first... ohhh... three weeks or so of next month?

Thanks for your time.

15 comments:

  1. I was seated next to a police officer at a wedding reception once and took the opportunity to ask him questions. One was, "Do you have quotas?" He said, "We don't call them quotas--they're 'work standards.'" Officer ticket #s are reviewed on an ongoing basis and if one falls short of others, he's brought in and asked why. So...while there aren't set #s, perhaps, an officer probably knows he's judged each month by those #s and if, say, there's a cutoff date when he knows reports are pulled, I could see him panicking and rushing to issue tickets before that report has been pulled, especially if he's been slacking all month.

    On another note--air fresheners on a mirror are against the law? I didn't realize that! I know parking tags always say, "Remove while vehicle is in motion," but I never realized we could get tickets for that!

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    1. Ah, so it's the word "quota" they object to? Ha.

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  2. LMAO wow, he must have been desperate to pull you over for an air freshener. What next? Pull you over because you stink? lol I know where they hide here and at the first of the month are they there? Here and there every few days. End of the month are they there? All friggin day, they are there when I go to work and when I come back. No quotas, right!

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    Replies
    1. I'm pretty sure he was hoping to find a bigger violation. Something for which he could write me a ticket.

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  3. I have a cop-friend, she says they don't have quotas . . . sure! I had no idea hanging an air freshener on the rear-view mirror was not okay! I guess I'll have to take mine down . . .

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  4. Supposedly, it interferes with the driver's view of the road.

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  5. I was pulled over once in Shepherdstown, WV. The guy looked at my license and told me to be sure to come to a complete stop at stop signs and not to drive so fast near a daycare center. No ticket. I'm 55. I've been pulled over once. Never gotten a ticket. God must love me.

    Love,
    Janie

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  6. ha. i worked in law enforcement...and we had no quotas...per se...
    actually the beginning of the month we got more because we were looking for inspection stickers then....

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  7. Here happens the same, all people say they have quotas but Im not sure.
    Anyway always I noticed when they want to do nothing stop they make the ticket.
    And this is true.


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    Replies
    1. So it's not just in the USA? Ha.

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    2. I think maybe is something universal:)

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  8. I once got pulled over (I think I was nineteen years old) for going 20 mph in a 15 mph zone. Nope, not a school zone. A public park, out in the boonies, on a day when NOBODY but the policeman was there. Really?? Grrr I'm still mad, thirty years later.

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    Replies
    1. Maybe he was in a bad mood that day...

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