Former police officer exposes Chesterfield’s ticket quota goals

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. – Two Virginia delegates who represent voters in Chesterfield County said they would consider banning ticket quotas at law enforcement agencies after CBS 6 uncovered traffic stop and arrest mandates at the Chesterfield County Police Department.

Lieutenant Colonel Dan Kelly with the Chesterfield Police Department said the mandates were not quotas and called them a perfectly legitimate performance standard.

A former officer with the Chesterfield Police Department came to CBS 6 investigative reporter Melissa Hipolit with concerns about the way he said the department measured officer performance. His recent review contained traffic stop and arrest mandates.

It showed the following work goals:

  • Two-three traffic stops per day
  • One arrest per day

“Failure to meet the expectation during this work performance plan will result in further disciplinary action,” the review read.

The former officer said he resigned after he was denied a one percent raise for not making enough traffic stops and arrests.

“This is…this is shocking…it really is,” Del. Riley Ingram (R – Chesterfield) said.

“This is a little disconcerting,” Del. Delores McQuinn (D – Chesterfield) said.  She said she had never seen something like that in writing before.

When questioned about the document, leaders at the Chesterfield Police Department sought to clarify its intent.

“If you think Chesterfield County Police officers are evil and out to target our citizens, that’s just completely false,” Lieutenant Colonel Kelly said. Kelly admitted the department does expect every patrol officer to make three traffic stops and one arrest during each shift. That adds up to about 270 stops and 90 arrests every day.

“Our officers are on the road 12 hours a day, so in a 12-hour period of time they stop three cars, I don’t think that’s unfairly targeting our citizens,” Kelly said.

He said the department comes up with those benchmarks after an in-depth review of all stop and arrest numbers from the previous year. They then come up with an average, which becomes the mandate.

“I don’t sit behind my desk and arbitrarily come up with some number of a performance standard that I think our officers should meet,” Kelly said. “They are held accountable to what their peers do.”

“Would you call this a quota system?” Hipolit asked Kelly.

“Absolutely not,” Kelly said.

“Why?” Hipolit pressed.

“It’s a performance standard,” Kelly replied.

At least one Chesterfield driver we spoke with said he is perfectly okay with that standard.

“If somebody is in the wrong, then they’re in the wrong, they’re just doing their job, I understand,” Lequan Mcelwain.

Kelly said the department’s officers are fairly lenient.

He pointed to numbers that showed officers issued tickets to just 40 percent of the cars they stopped last year.

“I think those are legitimate stops by our officers that observed a legitimate violation of the law,” Kelly said.

Chesterfield Police Department Master Officer Matt McCory said he pulled over an average of four to five  drivers every day, but only wrote one or two tickets.

“I generally can help them out a little bit, issue a warning instead of a summons,” McCory said.

The state of Illinois recently banned police ticket quotas. After our investigation, Delegates Riley and McQuinn both said Virginia should consider doing the same thing.

“I would hope this kind of practice would cease immediately,” Del. McQuinn said. “I think as we go back into the General Assembly it needs to be addressed.”

We asked both the Richmond and Henrico Police departments if they had similar systems in place to evaluate officer performance.

The Richmond Police Department said it does not have any traffic stop or arrest requirements.

A Henrico Police spokeswoman said there are no stop or arrest quotas for officers, but they do encourage traffic stops in crime hot spots and high accident locations.

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85 comments

  • Scott Gouldman

    I would have to disagree with police officer that was interviewed. Don’t get me wrong I think police often times they have a thankless job and they don’t get the support of the people. I certainly think they are under payed for putting their life on the line. But I can show a spot, where me and wife have a running joke (oops some of the guys haven’t made their quota). There is a 400 yard stretch of road where the police will have up to 5 police cars and officers at one time and the police are out of the car hiding behind the bushes with their radar guns. Happens at least once a month. 25 mile per hour speed limit and have seen as many as 3 cars pulled at one time. This is not a good use of policing power it is just an easy spot to get a quota. The officers should not be put it a position that requires them not use their common sense when dealing with the public it just alienates everyone.

    • John

      Scott, I have seen the same thing your talking about. Hopewell Police started this on I-295. They call it the “Million Dollar Mile” because they write enough tickets to accumulate over $1 million in fines a year. They put 5 or more police cars out there to generate as many tickets and fines as possible. I would use the phrase “Thy Cup Runneth Over”, but it never seems to be enough for them. The other police departments didn’t want to lose out on the fun and money so they started doing the same approach.

  • Vincent Borgerigma

    This clearly explains why there’s always an officer running radar at the entrance to the Swift Creek Water Treatment Plant, at the bottom of one of the steepest hills on Hull Street, just as you go west from 288. LOL. Just waiting for gravity to inch you up over the limit. “Unsportsmanlike” , if nothing else.

  • Ryan

    If I’m in the wrong, I’m in the wrong, but here’s a fact for you: I was pulled over at 3am, minutes after getting off work, for having a liscense plate light out. Ticketed. I has to be back at work at 9am, and was pulled over again, by the same officer, for the same reason, and ticketed again. I was working open to close, and upon leaving work that night, was again pulled over (by the same officer!) for accelerating too quickly from a stop sign into a 45 mph zone… And ticketed for having a light out… Yeah, I could’ve told you they have a quota.

    • John

      @Ryan, Now that story is really hard to believe. I know these police officers are doing what they are told to do, but I can’t imagine one of them being this obtuse. If the story IS true, please call the reporter at WTVR with the documentation showing this actual episode of events. I can’t imagine what the responses and comments will be if they aired that story (if true).

    • Name required

      You know, working for the VA hospital system, the VA police are “guilty” of this. They really are. The have NOTHING much to do and they will use lights and sirens to pull you over for doing 16 in a 15 mph zone using their Federal money Radar Guns (fifteen miles per hour…) as evidence. They are bored to tears and giving tickets is the high point of their day.
      But telling your officers that you “have to come up with an arrest today” is, well, out right stupid.
      This is why lawyers are necessary. You may not like lawyers and police, but you need to bring some reason and sanity to some situations.
      Idiots DO become IN CHARGE. Inept persons are always wanting to be in charge. Especially in the health care occupations.

  • Mike

    @Ryan

    You could have told me they have a quota? I could have told you your tag lights were out and you were accelerating too quickly.

  • chesterfield citizen

    you know the police department is going to trash the officer who brought this to light. whether he was the hardest working officer or the laziest is a relevant. what he said is true chesterfield police officers have a quota and that’s wrong. It’s not the fault of the officer working the road. It’s their bosses and we need to talk to our elected officials to make sure this stops and let the higher ups in the police department know that this is wrong. NO QUOTAS NO QUOTAS!

  • "Anonymous"

    we’re living in a police state. Scott, when do police put their lives on the line, exactly? I know that’s one of those catch-all phrases, but I suspect it lacks any substance. the reason the police have quoats is because the more people that get ticketed, the more money the county makes. ironically, one of the most unjust things about the police in america is that it is largely about profit. just like the prison industrial complex. and the war on drugs. and heathcare. and education. just follow along, single file…

    • Jayw Dubbya

      Since “9/11″..it does seem like we are in a police state.But I think it’s a revenue issue more than anything else. Case in point: Name the only 2 states that outlaw “radar detectors”? Good old Virginia and the District of Columbia. Why is that? REVENUE! Of course there are those who say that ” the only reason to have a radar detector is to circumvent the law”. And as far as DC is concerned….no surprise there either since revenue from “Parking Enforcement” accounts for over 50% of DC’s revenue. In fact….you don’t even go to court to contest a ticket; you go to Traffic Adjudication. And now of course, many places in northern VA have “speed cameras” and “red light cameras”.

  • "Anonymous"

    did you know that 1 in 3 police shootings involve an unarmed person? did you know that the police in this country have killed around 5,000 innocent people since 9/11? they risk their lives by arresting people who are committing (often) victimless crimes that should not be crimes in the first place because they immediately defy the old mantra “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” So compared to the hundreds of innocent, often unarmed citizens who die every year because of the police, that statistic means nothing to me. Think of the last time you saw a police officer “protect and serve” – and I DON’T mean one who let you slide on a speeding ticket. Wake up!

    • Dickie Longest

      Axe to grind much? Hippies like you need to get a job and bathe. Nobody is going to pick up the mantra of anarchy you put down on here.

  • Crystal

    I know a few officers that work for Chesterfield and they’re good people. they don’t like having a quota because it leads to bad policing. you’re going to have that officer who has fallen behind and hasn’t gotten that 1 arrest a day pull over grandma with a headlight out and writer her a ticket. Is it a perfectly legal ticket yes. But if he or she didn’t have a quota to meet he probably would have gave her a warning instead of a ticket.

  • Jayw Dubbya

    Conflicted on this. From a ‘personnel’ standpoint, this is a very unfair criteria for an officer to be judged on. Secondly, as a person of color, I as well as others can attest to how police have used (and still do) the “traffic” stop to justify the random and arbitrary stopping of Blacks and other minorities. Chesterfield was notorious for doing so in the 60s and 70s…and need I mention the Colonial Heights police department up through to even the 80s. (which the rule was “_______ whlle Black”… and fill in the blank…driving, walking, breathing, singing, etc.). On the other hand, I have no problem with using this tactic in high crime neighborhoods. The people in those neighborhoods who are being held hostage by the thugs and perps of the world need all the help they can get.in order to have a safe neighborhood. It’s a slippery slope between ‘quota’ and ‘enforcement’. Which also brings me to another point that all news reporters do: Why on earth do you interview law-enforcement personnel who have been accused of something questionable? Do you really expect them to admit to anything on camera? Did you really expect Lt. Col. Kelly to admit that this is a quota? When was the last time law enforcement EVER admitted to wrongdoing on camera? Will not happen because it opens the person and the department up to litigation. Just saying…I always get tickled when they interview chain of command officers for stories such as this. They can always justify the issue or policy they are being questioned about. Let’s face….Dahmer justified his cannibalism.

  • Anna Bolling Epps

    I am so disappointed, but certainly not surprised. There are so many better ways to use their time and resources. Then they have the nerve to be rude and disrespectful. I have so much respect for those of us who serve the public (teachers, police officers, firefighters, nurses, EMTs, etc.), so this is a real disappointment. When we truly need them, they are nowhere to be found!

  • Crystal

    it’s amazing how this story keeps developing the top brass of the Chesterfield Police Department is blatantly lying how can you say you don’t have quotas when you require an officer to make an arrest a day and if they don’t make that requirement /quota they face disciplinary action. how stupid do you think we are? you have a specified number disciplinary action if they don’t meet that number yet you still say you don’t have a quota call it what you want if it looks like a quota sounds like a quote then ladies and gentlemen it’s a quota. Chesterfield police department should apologize for this practice and not lie about it very disappointing very concerning

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