7/5/2019Missouri Town Admits It Used Ticket Quota
Missouri attorney general settles ticket quota suit against city of Diamond after mayor admits issuing citations to generate cash.
Law enforcement agencies around the country are routinely accused of using ticket quotas to maximize revenue generation. In all but the rarest of cases, officials deny such charges in the strongest term. An exception surfaced last week with a formal statement issued by Diamond, Missouri.
"The city of Diamond admits that certain actions taken by its chief of police constitute having a policy requiring or encouraging employees to issue a certain number of citations for traffic violations in violation of Sections 304.125 and 575.320.1 Revised Statutes of Missouri," read a settlement agreement signed by Mayor Brenda S. Schmitt.
Missouri Attorney General Eric S. Schmitt (R) -- no relation -- secured the confession following an extensive investigation into the speed trap town of 925's ticketing practices. A whistleblower police officer sent the attorney general a photo of a whiteboard with a message from Police Chief Michael Jones that said, "We R 5000.00 B hind issue some tickets RFN" with the acronym meaning "right [expletive] now." Schmitt filed suit against the city in April.
"One of my most important actions as a state senator was to help pass Senate Bill 5 and curb taxation by citation, an abusive and overreaching practice," Schmitt said in a statement. "Today, one of my most important duties as attorney general is to enforce all laws of the state of Missouri, including Senate Bill 5, to ensure that Missourians aren't being treated as ATMs."
The law adopted in 2015 banned the use of ticket quotas, and implementing a quota constitutes the crime of official miscounduct. To settle the charges, city officials agreed to certify compliance with the ticket quota law. The mayor, aldermen and police chief must attend 90-minute training sessions about the use of quotas, and the training material must be sent to the attorney general. If the city fails to follow these steps, it will be fined $100 per day.
"This lawsuit and resolution should send a clear message to cities and municipalities: my office will be vigilant in ending taxation by citation -- we will not hesitate to take action," Schmitt said.
A similar quota was exposed in Washington eleven years ago, prior to the change in state law.