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Quotas are corrosive for public trust of THP

A DUI case from Johnson City is raising allegations of Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) troopers being required to meet DUI quotas. The THP denies these allegations, but an email from one district suggests that troopers are "encouraged" to meet district averages and are to help other troopers who may be "falling behind" with their number of DUI arrests.

The THP chief claimed they have never used quotas for DUI arrests or any other violation, but insisted that they are primarily interested in saving lives. The troopers in that district are permitted to work 10-hour shifts, which allow them three days off per week. From the perspective of an individual trooper, the demand to meet the district average for DUI arrests could be seen as a threat that if they fail to meet the quota, they could lose their 10-hr shifts.

Anytime goals are created, there is a concern that activities are manipulated to meet the goal. Quotas for law enforcement are universally condemned, as each arrest must be determined on its particular facts. Anything short of that could lead to unconstitutional violations with illegal stops and arrests being made to "fill" their totals.

Are troopers congregating around bars, arresting any vehicle they see exiting the parking lot in the hopes that they can make an easy DUI arrest and bump their quota? If so, such behavior removes troopers from our highways and interstates, where they are supposed to patrol.

While troopers should be productive, we have to be careful how we measure productivity. It is always a sign of poor management when supervisors only rely on simple quotas to judge overall productively. The job of a Tennessee state trooper is complex and multifaceted.

If a trooper's numbers are down, perhaps the supervisors should examine their work with greater understanding, as pressuring troopers merely to arrest more citizens, guilty or not, does little to enhance highway safety or respect for the law.

Johnsoncitypress.com, "Local attorney: Email to Fall Branch District suggests state troopers work under DUI quotas," Becky Campbell, February 28, 2015

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