Honolulu, HI — Most people reading this article know what it is like to have the blue and red lights pop up in your rear view mirror. The last thing going through your mind at this point is the feeling of 'being protected.' This feeling comes from the fact that the overwhelming majority of the time a driver sees police lights in their mirror is because they have been targeted for revenue collection—often the result of a quota system—and they are about to be given a ticket, or worse.
Police, we are told, are here to keep us safe and protect us from the bad guys. However, public safety all too often takes a back seat to revenue collection. Time and time again, the Free Thought Project has exposed quota schemes in which officers were punished for not writing enough tickets or making enough arrests.
The most recent ticket writing scheme to be exposed comes out of Hawaii and it implicates the Federal Government in the driving force behind it. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) holds "traffic safety" grants throughout the year, which essentially require departments to meet certain numbers or they get no grant.
Though quotas are illegal in many states, they are just fine in Hawaii and the department has no problem implementing them to receive their federal handout.
As Hawaii News Now reports, Honolulu police officers who are participating in a speed enforcement grant program this month will have to pull over at least four drivers every hour.
The requirements for officers were sent out in a department email this week, detailing how it will be carried out.
“For each hour of grant overtime worked, it is projected that each officer will generate FOUR (4) speed-related contacts,” the email said. “Each stop shall be counted as one contact."
Cops being forced to pull over 4 people every hour makes no one safer. In fact, it turns cops into predators.
“It’s not going to be the quality speeding tickets that normally you see,” Jonathan Burge, an attorney and former HPD officer, said, adding that this method encourages speed traps instead of aiding in the safety of the citizens by going after dangerous speeders.
“You’ll see some of the speeds lower. Where normally maybe an officer waits until 15 miles an hour over (the speed limit) they might hit them at 10 miles now.”
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Though the federal government doesn't explicitly require the quotas, it causes departments to react similarly all over the country in an attempt to get their taxpayer funded handouts.
Just like in Hawaii, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) pointed to internal emails from a Rhode Island police department that illustrated how local officials see the federal requirements as an incentive to implement a ticket quota.
The feds are ignoring the the difficult position in which this places officers — especially considering the fact that if the Honolulu cops don't meet this quota, they face discipline.
Those who don’t meet the requirements could face disciplinary action, according to the email.
“That brings a lot of peer pressure,” Attorney Victor Bakke said.
Indeed. It also creates a ton of otherwise entirely pointless interactions which in turn furthers the divide between the police and the policed. When cops are told to be road pirates — and unquestioningly carry out orders in fear of disciplinary action — people tend to view police as the enemy.
Mandating that officers issue citations and make arrests is nothing close to "protecting and serving." In fact, it's quite the opposite.
Requiring a minimum number of citations forces conflict and potentially hostile interactions in situations where their would otherwise be no conflict.
It truly forces police officers to create criminals out of innocent people in order to generate revenue, or they face losing their jobs.
Sadly Hawaii is not some isolated incident. For years, TFTP has reported on these quota systems from coast to coast. In fact, in January, we brought you the story out of Chicago, in which Chicago Police lieutenant Franklin Paz, Jr., 48, filed a lawsuit against the department after he was demoted and reassigned to an entry-level position for exposing the department's illegal arrest quota.
If you truly want a glimpse into the mandated revenue collection schemes across the country and the penalties cops face for exposing them, take a look through our archives, here.