Senate passes Holy bill that seeks to discourage traffic-ticket quotas for officers

As a retired Spokane police officer, 6th District Sen. Jeff Holy is aware of the perception that some law enforcement officers may be compelled to issue traffic tickets to motorists. A bill sponsored by Holy this year aims to prevent the possibility of officers being ordered to meet traffic ticket quotas.

Under Senate Bill 6316, a law enforcement officer’s evaluation, salary or eligibility for promotion must not consider the number of traffic infractions issued or the amount of penalties produced from the traffic tickets issued.

The Senate approved the proposal 47-0 Friday. It now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

“This really is an integrity-in-law-enforcement bill that is long overdue,” said Holy, R-Cheney. “Many people believe that some law enforcement agencies order officers to issue tickets, which in effect creates a ticket quota system. This is damaging to the integrity of law enforcement as a whole in Washington. My bill aims to prevent that from happening.”

During his floor speech, Holy told fellow senators that Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Texas have passed laws prohibiting officers from being assigned quotas to write a specific number of traffic tickets during the course of their duties.

“Several other states have recognized this problem and have addressed it, but Washington has yet to do so,” said Holy. “I’ve been retired as an officer for 14 years and I know we had traffic citation ‘productivity expectations’ when I was on patrol as far back as the 1980s. There is a reason why law enforcement officers have discretion. An officer’s ability to make an independent decision allows them to apply the level of enforcement action they believe to be appropriate for the situation. An officer being directed to apply enforcement action to comply with an employer policy or ticket quota reflects badly on law enforcement.”

As a 6th District state representative in 2016, Holy introduced an identical measure, House Bill 2399. The House approved it 95-2 before it died in the Senate.

The 2020 legislative session is scheduled to end March 12.