Arlington County’s police officers do not have a quota system for arrests and citations, said the department’s chief, who rescinded a memo that indicated otherwise.
On Tuesday, Chief M. Douglas Scott pulled back an internal March 1 memorandum that suggested officers need to make a minimum number of arrests and issue a certain amount of traffic citations each month. He said he first saw the memo Monday after a news report on WUSA (Channel 9).
The memo, written by two patrol commanders, warned that “consistently failing to attain these goals could result in disciplinary action.”
The memo, called “Proactivity expectations 2012,” said the goals were “what a minimally successful, proactive officer or corporal can accomplish.”
At a morning news conference, Scott said quotas are “dangerous” because they focus on quantity over quality.
“Even the insinuation that we are supporting a quota system for the enforcement of traffic or criminal violations goes against the core values of this organization,” Scott wrote in his own memo, which he made public.
He said that the original memo was a mistake but that the commanders who wrote it will not be disciplined.
The goals in the commanders’ memo were established based on shift averages and conversations with officers and supervisors, according to Scott, who said the memo was initiated because some officers complained that others were not pulling their weight.
The original memo stated that the department does not have quotas, but it detailed monthly “expectations.” During a month of evening patrol shifts, for example, it said an officer was expected to make seven arrests and five field observation reports as well as issue 30 traffic summons — warnings making up a maximum of 25 percent — and five parking citations.
Those numbers are reasonable for a productive officer, Scott said, but should not be set as a quota.
There are many reasons an officer might not have much arrest or citation paperwork at the end of a shift, Scott said. For example, he said, the officer might be needed on a single scene for many hours rather than out in the field.
Scott said that if officers are consistently not being productive, their supervisors should deal with them individually.
“The suggestion of quotas sullies the professional reputation of this department,” the chief said.