The Virginia Police Benevolent Association (VPBA) is drafting legislation to ban ticket quotas in all law enforcement agencies across the Commonwealth.
“This legislation comes from my state police chapter,” VPBA Executive Director Sean McGowan said. “We have a state police chapter that has 800 troopers that are members. This is their concern, this is not something that Sean McGowan or the committee came up with. This is directly from our members.”
The effort was first reported by The Richmond Times-Dispatch, which also reported on an email sent by a local Virginia State Police (VSP) supervisor telling his subordinates to write five tickets a day.
VSP Public Relations Director Corinne Geller told The Virginia Star in an email, “The Virginia State Police does not have ‘ticket quotas.’ There are enforcement expectations for those personnel assigned to patrol now that COVID restrictions have lifted.”
Geller said the VSP doesn’t use quotas not because they are bad but because they don’t work for the VSP, whose troopers have varying responsibilities and daily activities.
She said, “It would be nearly impossible to set a ticket quota even if we wanted to. Instead, each Area Office uses data available in a number of performance categories to determine averages. These averages are used as benchmarks to help supervision determine a trooper’s progress towards meeting performance expectations. This process has been in place at VSP for decades.”
McGowan explained his goal for the legislation: “Basically it prohibits a pre-determined number of tickets to be issued for evaluation purposes. That’s what it comes down to. The jurisdictions or agencies can call quotas whatever they want to call them. We all know what a quota is and it doesn’t matter what you call it, it is a quota.”
He argued that instead of evaluating the amount of tickets an officer writes, supervisors need to be observing day-to-day work to properly evaluate officer performance. McGowan thinks in light of public opinion showing a desire for law enforcement reform, a ticket quota ban could garner support in the General Assembly.
Former Senator Bill Carrico (R-Grayson), who is a retired VSP trooper, said that during his time at the VSP there were no quotas in place, and that he opposes quotas. He is also skeptical of the PBA, noting that Virginia’s right-to-work law protects employees from being required to join unions.
Ending right-to-work is one of the policy debates at the forefront in Virginia as Democrats gain power. Localities across Virginia are already considering whether or not and how to empower collective bargaining units for government employees, and in 2020, The Virginian-Pilot reported that the Virginia Beach PBA wanted collective bargaining power.
Carrico is concerned that unions tend to resist leadership’s ability to oversee employees.
“I was a member of the Virginia State Police Association. There was no PBA chapter of state police when I was working. I think now, there are troopers that have joined the national PBA organization,” he said.
“There’s always a sergeant or supervisor saying, ‘Well you didn’t do this much in this side of enforcement, you need to pick that up and do better.’ So you can equate that to a quota,” he told The Star. “Unless things have changed dramatically, that I’m aware of there’s nothing that says you have to write ‘X’ number of tickets.”
“I don’t believe in quotas, but I do believe in performance evaluations,” Carrico said.
Senator Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) wants to end fuzzy language around ticket quotas.
He told The Star, “I am working with the PBA as well as other law enforcement agencies to ensure clarity in the Code of Virginia that spells out no quotas for traffic infractions by individuals or departments.”