WASHINGTON CITY – An internal document outlining a point system for Washington City police officers is being characterized as a management tool that enhances the officers’ career development. But the system looks a lot like a quota requirement.
Point system measurements imposed upon police officers in correlation to the number of tickets they write or arrests they make have long been called “quotas” but agencies tend to decry the name “quotas” and are reluctant to publicize the practice.
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Quotas are controversial because they raise public suspicion that law enforcement officers will dole out tickets by compulsion, for career advancement perhaps, and to meet budget needs of their city or state employers.
Both the systems and the names given those systems are subjects of argument and denial.
St. George News obtained a document and Public Information Officer Ed Kantor said by way of authentication that it was produced by Washington City Police Department’s case department management. The document, attached here, sets forth Washington City Police Department Key Performance Indicators.
Washington City P.D.’s Key Performance Indicators policy in summary
The Washington P.D. document sets forth a point system by which officers accrue points for specific actions:
– 25 points for self-initiated department programs / processes / procedures.
– 10 points for DUI arrests.
– 6 points for other arrests.
– 5 points for self-initiated public presentations.
– 3 points for traffic and misdemeanor citations.
– ½ point for written warning citations.
And the list goes on.
The policy sets minimum monthly point accrual requirements for Washington City’s police officers and suggests goals within several of the point-earning items. It enumerates evaluation categories in areas of policy, customer service and leadership. And it defines an accountability process through which officers meet monthly with their sergeants for performance evaluations predicated upon their point accrual and a series of remedial actions that may be taken should an officer flag in logging sufficient number of points. Remedies include discussion and counseling, written documented warning to increase performance and corrective action plan to deal with recurring issues.
Washington P.D.’s comment on its policy
The policy was developed for enhanced employee career development, Kantor said, with two main goals: (1) To measure an employee’s performance fairly and accurately through a process, to be able to be consistent through evaluation period to evaluation period with consistency, and (2) to supply the highest level of customer service possible to the citizens of Washington City.
“And employees have to have a measure,” Kantor said, “it’s hard to do in law enforcement. These measures are ways to help an employee be successful; rather than just say ‘you never do anything, you’re fired,’ there has to be a process whereby supervisors and managers can help improve the career performance of employees.”
The policy provides the employee an opportunity to excel in law enforcement in areas in which they excel most, Kantor said. For example, if they don’t like writing traffic citations but they like making arrests, it helps them focus on where they want to go in their career, do they want to go into investigations? On the other hand, the system might show that an officer excels in writing citations and that might serve to encourage the officer to apply for a position in traffic division.
City of St. George Police Department’s comment on the point system policy
St. George Police Department’s Deputy Chief Richard Farnsworth said that St. George P.D. has nothing in the way of Washington City’s point system, as it was briefly described to him.
“We have an evaluation system but to put a standard of x number of citations, no,” he said.
St. George has ways to track statistics overall – to keep crime statistics, to rate officers – but, Farnsworth said, “no structure that regulates performance. We have no quota system, no reports system. We do not have a system where we assign points.”
Quota or performance rating systems link to revenues
Point assignment systems suggest quotas and quotas suggest a correlation between the acts and the revenue – whether or not the policymaker calls it a quota.
In 2000, Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources cooperated in a pilot “Performance Informed Budget,” a term the legislative committee decided on after debating other names for the pilot program such as “Performance Based Budget” and “Results Based Budgeting.” The Executive Summary of the report on that program includes the following statement:
“By whatever name, performance budgeting links appropriations to outcomes through the use of performance information in budget decision-making and the inclusion of performance indicators in the budget document.”
The DWR is a state agency that raises revenue through its own state police power and through less offense-oriented measures like application fees for hunting and fishing licenses. The 2000 report is detailed, itemizing, for example, application fees collected for a particular hunt over and above the number of licenses it allots to be issued for that hunt.
Whether it is the citing or arresting or licensing agency itself that draws the connection, or the state or city management under which it serves, traffic tickets, fines, application fees for hunting licenses, and the like all build revenue for the city or state. Is it likely that none of the powers that be are mindful of the connection or the tool that a performance measuring system offers in addressing budget issues?
The executive summary of the 2000 DWR pilot Performance Informed Budget spoke directly on what it appraised as an advantage: “In the future it is hoped there will be better linkage of budget recommendations to outcome measures, more performance targets, and more time to focus on outcomes.”
A connection between Washington’s Key Performance Indicators and revenue goals was not something that Kantor would allow. He said, “the fines are levied by the courts, not the police. … To say that it is a budget line item doesn’t make any sense. We have nothing to do with the fines levied, amounts collected or how they are distributed.”
Similarly, St. George P.D.’s Farnsworth said, “Where we use the justice department, the Police Department does not see a return. Any revenue goes to the city. It comes to the city’s general fund. I can say our administration of this Police Department would not encourage enforcement for revenue.”
Both Washington’s Kantor and St. George’s Farnsworth agreed that officers should not be concerned with revenue building:
“The police are there to enforce the law,” Kantor said.
“None of those should be in the equation,” Farnsworth said, law enforcement “should not be based on economic factors; the right thing to do has to be in the interest of justice.”
Will Utah lawmakers intervene?
Concerns about quotas in law enforcement and the potential for negative consequences to the public by virtue of their connection to revenue building have led state representatives to entertain multiple bills over the years.
Introduced in 2000, 2007, 2008 and 2009, each of the separate bills sought essentially “to prohibit state and local governmental entities and law enforcement agencies from requiring or directing that their law enforcement officers issue within any specified time period a specific number of citations, complaints, or warning notices …”
Most of the bills failed in House committee or in the House, but one passed to the Senate in 2008, where it too failed and was returned to the House file. In other words, the bill was dead.
Fiscal notes by the Legislative Fiscal Analyst largely appraised the bills to have no direct, measurable costs to the local governments – which analysis may rebut arguments that quotas drive revenues and budgets drive quotas.
Except that, in 2007, the analysts’ fiscal note stated: “Any local entities currently using a quota system could see a reduction in the number of citations and related revenues.” Same office, why the difference in fiscal note?
It may be because at that time, Ogden Police Department was receiving attention for its implementation of a quota system – or “standard” as its then Police Chief Jon Greiner said he preferred to call it.
According to a report by Cathy McKitrick published in The Salt Lake Tribune July 1, 2006, citation writing was one of several criteria then factored into pay raises for Ogden’s officers, and scoring points on performance evaluations was necessary to receiving pay increases.
Greiner opposed the succession of House Bills introduced by then House representative, Neil Hansen – representing Ogden – as did other police chiefs throughout the state, according to a report by Geoffrey Fattah, Deseret News, January 2007.
No similar bills have been introduced in Utah since the 2009 bill failed.
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