A police brutality lawsuit filed by a 76-year-old man who was beaten after police officers mistook stroke complications for intoxication has revealed evidence that the California Highway Patrol may be enforcing a ticket quota system. And that would violate state law.

For years, the California Highway Patrol has consistently denied that its officers are subject to a quota for the number of traffic tickets they write each month.
The practice is illegal under state law, and agencies that have been found to use a quota system have paid millions of dollars in damages and faced lawsuits filed as recently as April.
Despite that, a veteran CHP officer testified in Sacramento this month that he was subjected to monthly admonishments from his superiors to boost his “enforcement contacts” with motorists to at least 100 a month, and that such performance evaluations went on for years.
The testimony by CHP motorcycle Officer Jay Brame, who is being sued along with another officer and the CHP in a case now playing out in federal court in Sacramento, was bolstered by the introduction of performance reviews urging him to pull over more motorists.
“You have averaged five enforcement contacts per day for the first 15 days of the month, this is well below the shift average and not acceptable for a (motorcycle),” one evaluation introduced as evidence stated. “You will need to pick up your enforcement activity the second half of the month and use the (motorcycle) for what it is intended to be used for.”
The direct language in the documents surprised even the judge presiding at the trial.
“That is terrible,” U.S. District Judge William B. Shubb said. “I would think that the CHP should be ashamed of that document.”

The Sacramento Bee notes that despite the state law, other police agencies in the state have also been caught using quotas.

Officials in Los Angeles have paid out roughly $10 million over ticket quotas in recent years, according to media reports, including $6 million approved in December 2013 to settle lawsuits filed by motorcycle officers who said they were being ordered to write at least 18 tickets on each shift.

Even after those payouts, another LAPD officer sued the city in April, claiming he faced retaliation after being required to write 12 tickets a day.

A “whistleblower retaliation” lawsuit filed by Officer Earl Williams claimed his sergeants “repeatedly told officers during roll call that the officers were not writing enough tickets” and that after he wrote only one ticket during a shift he was reassigned to desk duty.

Quotas are problematic for a number of reasons. For one, they prioritize revenue and citations over safety. In cities such as Nashville and Dallas, where leaders have overseen a decline in traffic tickets, there has been no corresponding increase in traffic injuries or fatalities.

But quotas can also foster an antagonistic relationship between police and the communities they serve. They can cause cops to see residents as little more than potential sources of revenue or potential lawbreakers. An honest cop will tell you that police officers can always find some violation once they’ve pulled you over. Cops facing quotas, then, will have a strong incentive to “find” violations, even if those violations are petty and have no impact on highway safety. That can lead to understandable resentment and to conflict like what we saw in this case. It’s also reasonable to think that the people most likely to be targeted for these fishing stops are people least likely to have an attorney or to be in a position to protest. And, of course, poorer people are also disproportionately affected by the fines, too.