Emails suggest TN Highway Patrol setting ticket quotas for troopers

Emails sent to West Tennessee state troopers indicate “what some say are quotas set by high ups at the Tennessee Highway Patrol,” reports WREG-TV of Memphis.

A set of emails were anonymously sent to WREG… Through a Freedom of information Act request we asked for the emails directly from the state and discovered they said the same thing.

In one email dated December 12, 2017 subject line, “Seat Belt Enforcement”  a captain writes, “At the beginning of the year I set a goal for all troopers to issue at least 200 CRD and seat belt citations.”

It went on to say, “I asked that the few of you that have not met our goal to finish the year strong.” Also saying, “We are doing a fantastic job in this area and I think it has contributed to the success we are having in a decrease in fatalities.”

However, other emails have a much harsher tone.

Another email from a Sergeant sent a month later, subject, “Expectations of Haywood County Troopers,” calls for more inspections and more citations no exceptions.

The Sergeant called for specific inspections, saying if that doesn’t happen troopers will be reassigned per the Captain.

The sergeant discusses different levels of inspections saying, “If the weather is nice road troopers should have no less than 30 citations a week no exceptions. If activity does not improve troopers will be reassigned per the Captain.”

And in a third email sent January 15 from a supervisor’s meeting a list of expectations are laid out, 40 commercial vehicle inspections should be completed by June 30th, 60 total should be completed in 2018.

… We looked into the law, part of it stating, “A political subdivision or any agency of this state may not require or suggest to a law enforcement officer that the law enforcement officer is required or expected to issue a predetermined or specified number or any type of combination of types of traffic citations within a specified period.”

… WREG reached out to THP to get their side, they did not respond to our request for an interview but gave this statement:

The Tennessee Highway Patrol is a professional law enforcement agency that is charged to conduct traffic enforcement. If our troopers do not perform duties that they are charged with, then that leads to property damage, injury and fatal crashes on Tennessee roads. The citizens of Tennessee expect and deserve our troopers to patrol and take the appropriate enforcement steps needed to prevent those crashes.  If our troopers are not pulling over speeding motorist, drivers under the influence, reckless drivers, distracted drivers, motorist not wearing their seat belts and so on, then people die. In 2017, 1,039 people were killed on Tennessee roadways.  Could you imagine how high that number would be if our troopers did not do their job, and if our supervisors did not do theirs?  Most people who work for a living have a supervisor, and those supervisors expect an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.  The Tennessee Highway Patrol is no different.  The only difference is, if our troopers do not perform their duty and enforce traffic violations then we ultimately fail the citizens and visitors of this state and as I stated previously people die.  We do not have quotas as you suggested.

Note: The Johnson City Press had a series of stories in 2015 suggesting THP had a quota system for DUI arrests. Previous post on Col. Tracy Trott, Patrol commander, disputing the notion is HERE.

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