Nevada lawmakers mull banning ticket quotas for police
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Nevada lawmakers are considering banning police departments from requiring officers meet quotas and issue a minimum number of traffic citations.
In a Thursday committee hearing, Assemblywoman Rochelle Nguyen, the proposal’s sponsor, called quotas “policing for profit” and said they incentivize officers to act confrontationally and unfairly target individuals, particularly near the end of a given month when they have to meet quotas.
The bill would also prohibit departments from considering the numbers of citations an officer issues in performance reviews or promotional decisions. Nguyen said when departments reward officers for the number of tickets issued, it hurts both officers and those being ticketed, who, in Nevada, can be charged with felonies for not paying fines.
“The long term ripple effect on people’s livelihoods, family finances and future job prospects can be devastating, particularly for people who are barely getting by as is,” the Las Vegas Democrat said.
The financial impact of the quota ban was not discussed Thursday, but will likely be raised if it reaches the legislative committee that oversees fiscal policy. It’s unclear which, if any, Nevada law enforcement agencies have official quotas, but police union representatives said they’re often used in practice.
Nguyen said, regardless of whether the policies are in writing, the “pervasive philosophy behind quotas still exists, when you see a ton of police officers making arrests at certain times of the month.”
The ticket quota ban is one of many policies that state lawmakers are considering in response to a growing chorus of calls for criminal justice reform after the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor last year and subsequent protests.
Reform advocates supported the bill, but it divided law enforcement management and unions.
Lobbyist Eddie Ableser, speaking on behalf of the union representing state law enforcement including highway patrol, said pressuring officers to issue more tickets doesn’t help foster positive relationships with community members or keep people safe.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department lobbyist Chuck Callaway said he worried the bill would limit management’s ability to ensure officers were sufficiently responding to complaints if they aren’t issuing a certain number of citations.
“A supervisor needs to be able to have that conversation with employees that they need to get out and address crime that’s occurring,” he said.
Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.