Are Rhode Island Police Implementing Illegal Traffic Ticket Quotas?

Nobody likes getting pulled over by the police, but when even the police officers making the stops are doing it against their will, something is seriously wrong.

Welcome to the world of traffic ticket quotas.

Before Thanksgiving, amid news reports that some police departments in the state were requiring, or strongly recommending, that their officers issue a certain number of traffic tickets each time they were on patrol, the ACLU of Rhode Island warned departments that they faced legal action if they continued the practice. Rhode Island is one of a number of states that has a statute prohibiting law enforcement from implementing ticket quotas as well as arrest quotas.

Quotas are problematic for a number of reasons. For one thing, they send the message that policing is more about making money than public safety. Like police misuse of civil asset forfeiture laws, or infamous legendary Southern speed traps, ticket quota policies undermine the legitimate purpose of police work and generate public cynicism of law enforcement.

When police are put in the position of choosing which cars to pull over merely for the sake of meeting an arbitrary quota, policies like this can also encourage discriminatory treatment of motorists. Every day, virtually every one of us breaks a traffic law — whether it is going five miles over the speed limit, failing to put on a turn signal, or accidentally crossing the center lane for a moment.

If an officer has to pull over a certain number of people for minor violations, he or she will be able to pick and choose who the “lucky” and “unlucky” motorists are — and we know where that can lead. Years of traffic stop data from Rhode Island documented a serious problem of racial profiling in many police departments: People of color are stopped more often and searched more often than whites, even though they are less likely to be found with contraband when searched. The national data reach similar conclusions. Arbitrarily imposed traffic stops can only promote further unequal treatment and undermine police-community relations.

Quotas send the message that policing is more about making money than public safety.

The anxiety and trauma that can be generated by a police stop goes without saying. For most people, it is an unnerving experience, and for people of color, it is particularly fraught. Minor encounters can quickly escalate if the driver fails to show enough “deference,” and suddenly a forced traffic stop over a minor violation or an “investigatory” stop turns into a completely avoidable arrest — or worse.

At bottom, there is no conceivable public safety basis for a quota system. If police chiefs are concerned that their officers are being lazy on the job, they need to find a real means of motivating them. Implementing ticket quotas cannot possibly accomplish this, and regardless, professionalism and commendation in policing should not revolve around the number of traffic tickets issued.

The ACLU of Rhode Island successfully pushed for passage of the state’s ban on traffic ticket quotas in 2010 after the disclosure of documents about one police department’s practice, enacted because some town officials felt not enough tickets were being issued. Legislators and the public rightly condemned the practice then. It is unfortunate to learn that seven years later, not all police departments have yet gotten the message. In short, the implementation of traffic ticket quotas is extremely problematic as a matter of policy, but even more so when it involves a police department itself violating the law.

To be clear, enforcement of traffic laws can serve an important function in protecting the motoring public, but quota policies mock that function. That is why our letter to chiefs made clear that we stand ready to take action against any police department ignoring its obligations under this law.

View comments (24)
Read the Terms of Use

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

How come whenever the A.C.L.U. has an article similar to this one concerning the police they always seem to include a picture of policemen's butts? Please no more butt pictures or someone will be getting the wrong idea.


How come you use the name of a notorious Nazi monster?

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

That's a good question.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I owe you all an explanation about my posts on this the A.C.L.U. Blog.

Back during the Vietnam War Abbie Hoffman said: If I publicly stand up and say that I am against the war, that's nothing. Everyone is saying they are against the war. If I publicly stand up and say that young people should kill their parents (which he did) then people take notice.

In the words of Governor George Wallace: "You know, I tried to talk about good roads and good schools and all these things that have been part of my career, and nobody listened. And then I began talking about niggers, and they stomped the floor."

More recently in Russia a women's protest group was formed. They did not call themselves "The Women's Way" or the "The Makeover March". They called themselves "Pussy Riot". That was sure to draw attention.

Likewise here on the A.C.L.U. Blog, if I write benign comments, no matter how astute, observant, wise, and well written they may be, no one will acutely react to them. If I make a bunch of ignorant, silly, and smart ass remarks under an outrageous pseudonym then I do get plenty of replies.

You people here on the A.C.L.U. Blog should have more of a sense of humor, after all, with Donald Trump being President of the United States you are going to need it.

May God bless America, & American Civil Liberties Union (Donald Trump too).


I really all the fag 1% bikers out there that lost Vietnam war would just kill themselves. Why can’t they do the honorable thing and commit harry carry like they were supposed too?

You brothers are dead because you played dead, now you make shitty noise with your Harley. Die.

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

I need to update my previous post. I meant to say, please more more butt pictures. I love butt.

Dr. Joseph Goebbels

How to avoid cops. Get a Radar/laser detector and learn how to use it. Don’t let cops tell you they don’t work because I know for fact they do. I use one on a daily basis to “beat” the cops. Here’s what you need to know.

1. A quality multi band radar detector will pick up the electronic signals of almost all cop K and Ka band radars. There are two types of cop radar. “Constant on” and “Pop on” radar. Constant on signals are constantly broadcasting and your detector will pick these up far away. Many agencies ride around with radar always on, this is good so I know they are around and put my beer down.
Pop on radar is when the cop pulls the trigger to activate the radar. A good detector will pick this up too since the cop is probably radaring other cars as well. So slow down.

2. Laser is more tricky. Laser almost always pop on only and a very directed beam. You detector will pick this up but it is often too late if you are speeding. Many times a good detector will pick up bounced laser signals from other cars.

It is very common for cops to use radar with laser so your detector should pick them up before you get popped. Bottom line, drive fast, invest in a detector and learn how to use it. Oh yeah, get VGx cloaking if you live in an illegal state.


I don't drive in Rhode Island because you give yup rights when toy drive. So I ride a bicycle. Then I got pulled over on my bicycle on a bike path. No rights there either. I'll just pass through Rhode Island


If you're on a bicycle you have to follow the rules of the road as if you're a motorist. No that does not mean run red lights like crazy like 99% of them do.


Driving is a privilege, so you never had any rights to begin with when you drive. When you operate a motor vehicle there are certain specified laws you have to follow, and even before you can even drive need to have permission from the state to operate the vehicle and to actually have the vehicle on a pubic street.


So when the cop pulls you over, wait for him to walk between your car, then run him over. Take a Molotov cocktail and torch the car. Drive away happy.


Stay Informed