Editorials

Arlington cops are lying about stops or quotas

THE EDITORIAL BOARD

Arlington officers are accused of reporting traffic stops that never happened.
Arlington officers are accused of reporting traffic stops that never happened. jlmarshall@star-telegram.com

It would be an outrage — and a violation of state law — if Arlington has a traffic ticket quota for its police officers.

We’re a long way from knowing that’s the case.

Allegations of a quota system have come from two of 15 officers who are being investigated over whether they reported traffic stops that never happened.

Supervisors discovered that some reported stops were not backed by dash-cam video that would be expected in such cases, a source close to the investigation has said.

But these two officers, through their attorney, say they felt pressure to make stops and write citations.

“Ticket quotas are alive and well in Arlington PD,” one of the two officers wrote in an email shown to Star-Telegram reporter Ryan Osborne by their attorney, Randy Moore.

Moore wouldn’t allow his clients to be questioned directly.

“There’s no written policy, because that would be illegal,” Moore said. “They’re doing it informally.”

Well, here’s the problem: It sounds like these officers are saying they lied about the traffic stops because they felt they had to meet a quota. Isn’t that still a lie?

The department denies there are quotas.

We need a lot more information. Until then, we’ll give the entire Arlington Police Department the respect our first responders deserve.

The first issue at hand is whether any of these officers lied about making traffic stops.

If they did, we want them fired. If they didn’t, we want them cleared.

All 15 officers were placed on paid leave May 31. The investigation could take two months.

Countless drivers who’ve been handed a traffic ticket have griped that the officer must have been working to meet a quota.

But if we’re honest, we must admit that, purely from what we all see when we’re on the road, police must ignore far more traffic infractions than they act upon.

The Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association made similar allegations of a quota system in 2009.

The association has posted on its website a 2010 email from a west patrol district sergeant urging his officers to “please just be average” in their numbers for stops made and citations issued.

Phillip Lyons, dean of the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University, said police departments must be careful about how they measure officers’ performance.

“On the other hand,” Lyons told reporter Osborne, “if you have some officers that have nothing to show for their time, it does sort of beg the question: Why, exactly, are we paying them?”

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