• Apr 12, 2011
For the average motorist, dealing with law enforcement usually amounts trying to get out of a traffic citation. So it's understandable that we sometimes are less than thrilled to see them on our roads. But keep in mind that the police are the first responders whenever there is trouble, and the men and women in blue are looking out for our best interests more than many of us realize.

Case in point? Los Angeles police officers Howard Chan and David Benioff sued the city for instituting a ticket quota system (we knew it!). According to the Los Angeles Times, the officers alleged that they were instructed to write up 18 tickets each per shift. And not just any ticket – we're talking high-dollar offenses like blowing stop signs and other major moving violations.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the officers won their civil case by an 11-1 vote and were awarded a $2 million judgment due to a loss of reputation and work actions that resulted from the officers' refusal to meet that quota. Gregory Smith, Benioff's lawyer, says that he hopes the decision helps eradicate quotas, adding that the practice is "a direct violation of the vehicle code and this case was about these officers being asked to break the law."

The city's defense was that the department had broad goals for tickets, but only to improve safety and decrease fatalities. Former LAPD Commander Paul Kim tells a different story, testifying that weather, paramedic response times and the price of gas were more likely more significant reasons for traffic deaths. Hat tip to Bo!

[Source: Los Angeles Times | Image: Corbis]


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 45 Comments
      • 3 Years Ago
      You want to meet the true heroes?

      It's these two men. They stood fighting against an entire organization and basically won. Risking their careers, no doubt. They stood their ground believing in what think is the "right thing" to do.

      I applaud these men for their bravery and helping change the system. And setting a precedent for other organizations and other men and women in uniform to stand up and speak up.
      • 3 Years Ago
      While $2mil seems pretty high, I have to secretly cheer for the city getting what they deserved.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am one of those victims. I did a rolling stop at about 2mph, I kid you not. He clocked me at 15 mph and failing to stop at a sign. I paid $280 plus traffic school.

      Oh well!
        • 3 Years Ago
        @whiskers,

        Traffic school means you insurance hike, though of course you have to pay for traffic school on top of the ticket.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @whisker,

        I was not going 15 mph through a stop sign. I know better.
        • 3 Years Ago
        And insurance costs. Why does everyone forget about the insurance costs?

        Also, if you're doing a 2mph rolling stop, you're doing it wrong.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Correction: Traffic school means NO insurance hike, and actually you can get a discount from that point on for taking it. Think of it as small consolation for the aggravation of taking traffic school and paying a ticket.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Well, now that the city is short $2M, looks like they'll have to find a way to raise some money...
      • 3 Years Ago
      www.ticketclinic.com great way to keep points off your license.

      I understand the police are there to protect the public but when the rules are easy to break, one has to wonder who implemented the rules and why did they make them so easy to break. I travel a road with three lanes each way and the lanes are wide enough for highway use, yet the speed limit is set at 35 mph. You can bet there are cops everyday on the road citing people for speeding at 55 and 60mph despite the fact this road is very safe. How do I know this? Three years of traveling there and I haven't seen one accident. Police reports show very low accident rates, but I see lots of cops stopping drivers everyday.
        • 3 Years Ago
        It's a residential area...maybe the residents don't like the excessive noise of a three lane X 2 (both ways) going through their area.
      • 3 Years Ago
      11-1 vote, eh? I'd love to know who was that single vote against the officers.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Someone who didn't want to get harassed every day for the rest of his life, that's who.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bravo.
      • 3 Years Ago
      How many of the citizens who were illegally ticketed will get some of that $2M? How many will have their tickets voided and records expunged?

      Folks, Join the National Motorists Association at motorists.org. They are one of the few groups fighting this crap for you and me.
        • 3 Years Ago
        It was awarded to the officers because they gave up there jobs to bring this to light...I'm sure when the people who were wrongly ticked got their chance to argue their case.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @John H

        Except that NO ONE wins against the traffic cop in court. Only happens if the cop does not show up.
        • 3 Years Ago
        The fact that somebody got a ticket to meet a quota doesn't mean the ticket was wrongfully given. It means you might not have gotten that ticket otherwise, but that's immaterial. You still have a chance to argue your ticket in court anyway.
      • 3 Years Ago
      "and the men and women in blue are looking out for our best interests more than many of us realize."

      I find that statement highly debatable.
        • 3 Years Ago
        That's right Wally, and as a Lawyer I can tell you, you are 100% correct, NEVER talk to the police, EVER for any reason.
        • 3 Years Ago
        I see the cops as more of a tax funded gang than anything. They are looking for any excuse to cart someone away, stick them in a cell and begin the process of extra tax collection. I avoid them at all costs, no matter if I'm in the right or the wrong, it's just better not to deal with them.
        • 3 Years Ago
        More like laughable.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Concur,

        The two officers in this case that refused are the exception to the the thousands that likely follow quota policy.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @neevers - I have the video "Busted: The Citizens Guide To Surviving Police Encounters" that one of my attorney friends gave me a couple of years ago. It's boring, but it's a great watch. In the video they say to never talk to the police if you can avoid it and never allow them to search your vehicle and many other tips to avoid a trip to the hole or some stupid ticket. It's on youtube right here: http://youtu.be/yqMjMPlXzdA
      • 3 Years Ago
      Speed or drive in the HOV lane. Instant ticket.

      Roll through a crosswalk or steal a bike or a TV or bust a car window or leave an unattended tractor circling in a Wal-Mart parking lot no problem. Funny how some police forces only go after the easy money.

      There are some good cops out there breaking up drug gangs and walking the beat, but the cruisers sitting out on the HWY in the middle of nowhere aren't protecting or serving where any of the really dangerous crimes are committed.
      • 3 Years Ago
      $2 million?? What a joke. Maybe they'll get the quota policy dropped, though.


      * sits back w/ popcorn for the show *
        • 3 Years Ago
        2 million for calling out abuse of power, and to fund their new life in some other part of the country sounds right to me. Kudos and huzzah.
        • 3 Years Ago
        What a load of garbage!!! What do the citizens of LA get? To pay these to schmucks 2 million dollars. Thanks jackasses.

        The system is obviously broken.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Here're two cops that actually deserve the honour of "to serve and protect"

        Instead of "to find, ticket, arrest, and help prosecute"

        Hats off to these men who actually stood up for GOOD citizens!
        • 3 Years Ago
        But no commander or chief was fired and no fault was admitted.
        Yes, the cops got some money, but their careers are essentially over.

        Shame that it took a civil case to establish/stop what everyone KNOWS is the real deal...quotas.

        OTOH, everyone in private industry with a job has a quota of some sort, call it a goal, an objective, etc., so why not cops?

        EVERYDAY I see morons blow stop signs and stop lights, pass on the right and cut in, turn left at no left turn signs, turn right on red without stopping, drive over double yellow lines, violate pedestrian and bicycle right-of-way, block the square (thanks Mayor Bloomberg for upping the $$ ante on that one), drive with headphones/iPod earphones (come ON...those twin white cords are a giveaway for an easy ticket), various other forms of distracted driving including reading your frickin' Kindle or looking at videos on your iPhone or just texting texting texting and yapping yapping yapping and just generally behaving like A-holes.

        Quotas aren't a bad thing as performance goals for cops....and they're SO easy to make and then you get a great performance rating.

        The more I think about it the more I like quotas.
        • 3 Years Ago
        how is $2million a joke, for 2 guys with ruined careers?

        they'll never work as cops again.

        I think it's fair.
      • 3 Years Ago
      It is sad how the politicians view the populous as just ATM machines.
      They have no concept of how to balance a budget like a normal person would, so instead they just dream up ways to take more out of our pockets.

      I honestly would not be surprised if this country devolved into a civil war in the next three to five years. Hopefully by then I will be on a boat in Greece somewhere and far away from here forever.
    • Load More Comments