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Fla. officer fired for writing too many tickets

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by Sam Spade, Jun 11, 2012.

  1. Sam Spade

    Sam Spade Staff Member Lifetime Member

    May 4, 2003

    When you get beyond the obvious, the story raises some other interesting thoughts.

    One, it's a strong argument against privatizing police services.
    For another, it shows that public sector unions still have a place.
    And then there's the discussion about how many things cops overlook on a day to day basis.

    I'm sure I'm missing some points.
  2. FL Airedale

    FL Airedale Dog Breath

    May 21, 2011
    North-Central Florida
    There are departments in suburban Orlando and in rural areas between Gainesville and Jacksonville that would LOVE to hire this guy.

  3. RetailNinja


    Jan 31, 2007
    In my jurisdiction it would go to court and judge would ax

    Was every citation that was issued throughout this time period found to be for valid violations of traffic safety code?

    If yes, then there is no intimidation, no matter what the offense. Violation = citation and whether the officer ignores 100 violations a day or enforces 100 violations a day is up to his/her discretion.

    If no, then the intimidation argument could be valid, and more serious questions are at hand.
  4. Atomic Punk

    Atomic Punk

    Mar 11, 2008
    so he ignored some bad brake lights and lack of insurance cards. but was harder on the locals for DUI? he should get a raise. nobody should get off on a DUI, local or not.
  5. Chuck54


    Nov 8, 2007
    WOW ............ too good of a job and gets fired
  6. Naelbis


    Oct 22, 2009
    Welcome to small town politics...on the plus side, the officer is going to spank the town in court if all his citations were for valid offenses...
  7. 115 tickets/4 weeks= about 29 tickets per week
    29/5 workdays= about 6 tickets per day.

    I could write 6 tickets an hour off my front porch, and they are punishing this officer for being less lenient? Sounds like small-town cronyism to me.
  8. I hope he does.
  9. Dukeboy01

    Dukeboy01 Pretty Ladies!

    Apr 30, 2000
    Lexington, KY
    You reap what you sow. We do a piss poor job of explaining why we get things such as step raises based on longevity and why our pensions are "generous." It's because the end result without those things starts to look like this. If you go to some sort of merit based system for pay raises in a job where the employees are empowered to curtail or suspend the civil liberties of others, you end up with abuses of discretion like this.

    And it is an abuse of discretion, IMO. The purpose of writing traffic citations should be to increase public safety. Writing tickets primarily to increase revenue is inappropriate. Writing tickets primarily to better your chances to receive a pay bonus is also inappropriate. That appears from the story to have been this officer's motivation and, FWIW, I don't approve.

    Now, should he be fired for it? No, so long as all of the tickets were legitimate. But this is what this type of political union busting behavior by the powers that be leads to. Some other officer in that department is making the same calculation and figuring out how to do increase his chances to get the bonus by arresting visiting college kids for alcohol intoxication. And sure as I'm sitting here, one night he'll hang his first questionable AI charge on some kid who's mouthy, but not really drunk for the purposes of statute. It just gets easier from there.

    The message that I would be getting is that if you screw exclusively with folks from out of town, none of the political hacks will care. This guy's problem was probably ultimately writing too many local tickets.

    I shudder to think what law enforcement will look like 20- 30 years from now if the Tea Party kooks and Civil libertardians get their way. Glad I'll be out by then.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012
  10. IGotIt

    IGotIt No Demlibtards

    Aug 20, 2011
    On The Edge
    Sounds like this is the chief's easy way out of not having to deal with upset citizens calling and complaining about the tickets they received.
  11. x_out86


    Feb 19, 2007
    Sounds like some bad politics going on that are going to end up costing the city some money. I agree with all that if this officer was issuing citations for legitimate violations the there is really nothing that can, or should, be done to the officer. I fail to connect the dots for their argument about "conduct unbecoming of an officer" when the guy gets paid to enforce state law and city ordinance. :dunno:

    I am also still a little foggy on the whole bonus based on merit thing. I agree with doing things based on each officers merit, not just because they have years in, but I am wondering how the PD was determining merit? I am guessing this is a question that we will not get an answer to.

    I can also see the PD's argument though too about the officer issuing so many cites for the wrong reason. We all know guys that will go out of their way to do things to try and prove a point; right, wrong or indifferent. I can see where this officer was probably trying to prove his point...was he doing anything wrong per se? No, but he probably could have tried to state his case in a better way.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012
  12. I, and only I, determine my level of discretion. As long as I'm within the law and policy, who are you to question who I write or don't write? If all of his summonses are for valid offenses under their traffic laws, then so be it. This is about nothing more than small town politics and rich locals getting their way.

  13. I agree. If citations are something they look at when it's time for the bonus, there is nothing wrong with going out a writing more citations as long as they are legit.

    Who is to say that he lowered his standards for writing citations, maybe he just spent more time working traffic instead of drinking coffee. It certainly seems like he gave his fair share of warnings. Working in a resort town and dealing with the locals who feel entitled, I know where this guy is coming from.

    The Chief certainly opened a can of worms. I hope the Chief realizes this and is smart enough not to can the other two officers.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012
  14. Dukeboy01

    Dukeboy01 Pretty Ladies!

    Apr 30, 2000
    Lexington, KY
    Simmer down. I'm not questioning "who" he wrote, I'm questioning his motivation. If you go from writing a couple of hundred tickets over the course of an entire year to writing a couple of hundred tickets a month, unless you can show me that there's been a 1200% increase in traffic accidents, I'm saying that your motivation for writing those citations isn't about public safety and the maintenance of public order.

    We're getting into a higher plane of thought on this issue, so consider this your offical notice that a fair amount of philosophical rambling is about to take place:

    The police are entrusted with a tremendous amount of authority and a commensurate amount of responsibility. With that comes a lot of discretion, which the public expects us to use fairly in order to best accomplish "justice" and the maintanence of "public order." If we applied our authority exactly as the law grants it to us, in every situation without consideration of the totality of the circumstances, in the grand scheme of things we would cause or further a lot of injustice. We are expected to temper our pursuit of perfect justice with mercy. What that means to me is that the public expects, even demands, that we will let the occasional lawbreaker go without arrest or citation. This is especially true when it comes to issuance of traffic tickets.

    The public expects us to enforce traffic laws "fairly," but they also don't expect us to robotically issue citations in the absence of "a problem." They want laws against speeding, red light running, and the like but they don't want those laws strictly enforced. It's the reason that automated ticketing devices for speed and red light running have quickly fallen into disfavor by the public at large, even as their elected officials try to hang onto them for revenue generation. The public at large doesn't want traffic laws enforced for purposes of revenue enhancement. They definitely don't want them enforced because that's the way that police officers earn bonuses.

    This officer didn't suddenly go out and start writing ten times as many tickets as he did before because traffic safety demanded it. He wrote ten times as many tickets because he was trying to get a raise.

    Is it illegal? No, so long as he was writing legitimate tickets. Was it even unethical? No, I won't go as far as to say that. He was trying to play the game that his idiot superiors came up with in order to earn a living. If you ask me, they're the ones to blame. He responded rationally to their stupid merit based system.

    But, in my opinion it was still wrong. Traffic laws are written to promote the safety of the public. Their enforcement is supposed to further that goal. If your primary motivation for writing the ticket is not that, then I say that you've abused the discretion you had to not write the ticket instead. The idiot superiors made up the game. He still chose to play.

    Ultimately, it all goes back to what Sam said in his original post: The whole sorry affair goes to show why cops need unions. We need protection from political games if we are going to be able to have the ability to appropriately apply our authority and our discretion in order to attempt to achieve "justice." That includes protection from games with our pay as well as the kind of "big fish- small pond" retribution that is part of this situation.
  15. trdvet


    Oct 2, 2004
    The traffic unit here averages 20 a day and can most likely write plenty more. Typical stuff going on here, people want "something" done but don't want that something happening to them.
  16. Holy Camole, I truly thought common sense had left the thread until I read your posts. Undeniably so well said, thank you, except for the union part, they're leeches and vampires.

    Have a great gun carryin' Kenpo day

    Last edited: Jun 11, 2012
  17. Naelbis


    Oct 22, 2009
    Do you have a better method of protecting officers from this type of behavior? or are we just supposed to live with it and let our livelihoods depend on not offending or arresting the wrong people?
  18. steveksux

    steveksux Massive Member

    Jul 12, 2007
    Can't argue with religious dogma. That's what you're dealing with right there. Just like the folks claiming all govt employees, police/fire included are somehow "sucking on the govt teat" instead of providing a service.

    I suppose he thinks companies back before unions came into being that employed child labor were angelic, rather than being even worse leeches and vampires.

    Unions were crucial to gettting working conditions improved back in the old days. Companies were too powerful. You can argue some unions have gotten too powerful, gone too far since then. Maybe the balance has gone too far in some unions, some cases. That doesn't mean they all have, or that none are useful, even necessary. Absolute power corrupts. Corporations or unions. Finding the correct balance is always the key.

    Some insulation from political hacks/vendettas is crucial. Isolation to the point of a lack of accountability is too much insulation. If someone can demonstrate that, then we can talk about how unions are too powerful.

  19. Duke: I agree that there should be some level of discretion in traffic enforcement. With the exceptions of DWI, unrestrained children, and not stopping for stopped school buses. However, if the town sets up some sort of "merit" based pay, I fail to see how an Officer playing by the rules is in the wrong here. If you committed the offense that you were written for, tough. It doesn't matter the motivation behind the issuing of the summons. I personally write summonses to correct dangerous/stupid driving habits. Other guys I work with write them just to make their numbers higher in hopes of an inside detail, or in one case, awards from the dept. (which is a complete and utter joke, but I digress)

    Everyone wants traffic laws enforced to the letter, except when it's them getting the summons. I've been assigned at times to enforce certain traffic laws in areas where people disregard them. Such as stop signs by schools, no parking areas etc. Without fail, I have pulled over people who immediately start stammering "But I'm the one that complained", for doing the same thing they complained about!
  20. Mayhem like Me

    Mayhem like Me Semper Paratus

    Mar 13, 2001
    Not a chance
    My crystal ball says ...he will get back pay AND a settlement....

    the Town of Palm Beach is a joke..

    I know a supervisor at that city that has had to do the following..over a multi decade career.

    pick residents up at the airport.
    drive residents home drunk
    Take an expensive sweater out of the washer for a resident and hang it to dry..
    Let dogs out for residents .
    Set alarm code and wait for cable installers.

    As a plus you get great equipment and they pay well.