ENCINO (CBSLA.com) — The City of Los Angeles agreed to a $6 million settlement Tuesday in a lawsuit brought by 11 police officers on traffic patrol who claimed they were punished for failing to meet traffic ticket quotas.
The settlement of the latest traffic ticket quota lawsuit will add to the taxpayer bill from a 2011 suit, bringing the total amount of taxpayer money spent on these lawsuits to more than $10 million.
The 11 officers who filed the suit charged they were ordered by their supervisor at the West L.A. Traffic Division to meet a daily quota of tickets or face consequences, according to their attorney.
"The officers were told on a daily basis by their supervisors that they needed to write at least 18 tickets, and that 80 percent of them had to come from a specific list of citations," attorney Matthew McNicholas said. "And if they didn't they would lose vacation time, they would lose overtime, they would lose promotion opportunities."
The LAPD denies it has ever used quotas, instead referring to them as "production goals" that are not mandatory. Police Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement:
"In an effort to reduce serious injuries and deaths, West Traffic Division made the decision to set goals for reductions of these violations. This was not a quota system under the law."
McNicholas strongly disagrees.
"In fact, a lieutenant from ERG - Employment Relations Group - testified under oath that it was his job to examine whether or not there was a quota, and he testified under oath that he came to the conclusion that there was," McNicholas said.
Former City Councilman Dennis Zine, a motor patrol officer with the LAPD for many years, says quotas for traffic tickets fuel an already suspicious public's worst perceptions.
"The public perception is police officers have quotas, they have to write so many tickets, they're going to do this, they're going to do that," Zine said. "This particular case illustrates that the command of that particular division committed a violation of the law, of the California vehicle code and what happened? Got promoted to a higher level and currently on another promotion list. Meanwhile the taxpayers foot the bill for this."
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