Updated On: Jun 13, 2016
The Arlington Police Department is currently conducting an investigation into the actions of several officers stemming from allegations that these officers were falsifying traffic stop data. The Arlington Municipal Patrolman’s Association (AMPA) does not condone the alleged actions of these officers. The department’s investigation is ongoing and we encourage members of the police department as well as the public to not rush judgment until the investigation has run full course.
In any incident where there is an allegation of misconduct on the part of an officer, we expect the Department to conduct a thorough and exhaustive investigation to uncover facts that will help to prove or disprove the allegations. The results of these investigations are shared in the interest of transparency and procedural justice. The public we are entrusted to protect demands nothing less from those sworn to protect and serve.
What is often not discussed is the efforts to uncover what lead to the misconduct in terms of departmental shortcomings. Were there policies and procedures in place that discouraged or forbade the misconduct? Was there an underlying culture that encouraged the misconduct even if it was officially “against policy”? In short, what allowed the officers to believe that the misconduct was appropriate or even an option?
The Texas Transportation Code under section 720.002 details prohibitions on traffic-offense quotas. It states in part that a political subdivision may not establish or maintain a formal or informal plan to evaluate, promote, compensate, or discipline a peace officer based upon the officer’s issuance of a predetermined or specified number of any type or combination of types of traffic citations. It further states in part that a political subdivision or an agency may not require or suggest to a peace officer, a justice of the peace or a judge of a county court, statutory county court, municipal court or municipal court of record, that the peace officer is required or expected to issue a predetermined or specified number of any type or combination of types of traffic citation within a specified period.
The Arlington Police Department does not have a written policy or directive that specifically violates the Transportation Code. The question that stands now is whether an “informal quota” system is in place. Here are some points to ponder:
In the opening of this letter, AMPA specifically stated that we do not condone the alleged actions of the officers accused of falsifying traffic stop data. We are not attempting to offer explanations or excuses on the behalf of any officer or the department. What we are trying to do is accomplish the second task mentioned above of uncovering the shortcomings of the department that would foster a culture that would provide a ripe environment for such misconduct to occur.
Is there a quota system whether it be formal or informal? You decide what number of citations issued by an officer is used by supervisors to justify each performance level of rating on annual evaluations. You decide what number is high enough to keep supervisors from disapproving requests to work off duty employment. You decide what number is high enough to keep an officer’s supervisor from having a conversation with them about their monthly activity.
As officers, we know when we hit that “informal” number by our evaluations, conversations, and the threat of losing off duty jobs.