(WSVN) - A South Florida police department is under fire by some of its own officers. They say they’re getting in trouble for not writing enough traffic tickets. 7’s Brian Entin investigates.
When you drive through Hialeah, you can’t help but notice the traffic. And there’s something else you might be seeing…
Police officers writing tickets, and some officers say they’re being pressured to pull drivers over.
Driver 1: “Being pulled over because they have to meet their standards is not fair to me.”
Driver 2: “I don’t feel like that should be that way, because maybe they just might try to give tickets just for the simple fact of meeting that quota.”
Ticket quotas are illegal in Florida, but a police union attorney says at least 10 Hialeah officers have come forward to sound the alarm about a quota in Hialeah.
Stephan Lopez, Fraternal Order of Police attorney: “The chief and the command staff are requiring officers to write at least three citations a day, and if they fail to do that, they are giving them discipline.”
One officer was reprimanded for “deficient traffic enforcement” and told to “increase traffic enforcement and performance.”
Stephan Lopez: “They use ‘deficiency,’ but what they meant was failure to adhere to the quota.”
Brian Entin: “Hi, I’m Brian from Channel 7.”
We caught up with Hialeah Police Chief Sergio Velazquez outside a city council meeting.
Brian Entin: “There are officers who are claiming there has been a ticket quota instated in the city.”
Chief Sergio Velazquez: “There has been no ticket quota in the city. Nor has there ever been, nor there will be one.”
7News looked at the number of traffic tickets written in Hialeah over the last five years.
The number of tickets peaked at 91,000 in 2015.
In 2016, officers wrote almost 9,000 less.
And now in 2017, another noticeable drop. Roughly 47,000 tickets, with about three months left in the year.
Brian Entin: “Is there any sort of pressure on the officers?”
Chief Sergio Velazquez: “No. The only pressure on the officer is to go out here and do their job. And part of their duty is traffic enforcement.”
This summer, the state was rocked with its own quota controversy when Florida Highway Patrol troopers were encouraged to write two tickets an hour.
And now it’s the City of Hialeah that’s on the defense.
Stephan Lopez: “They will tell you there is no such thing. But when you have all these officers telling the same story, you know, the story is complete.”
The Fraternal Order of Police, the union that represents the officers here, says they’ve tried working this out directly with the chief but that they’ve made no progress. So they say they are now considering filing a lawsuit.
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