By Robert Kittle
A bill pre-filed in the South Carolina House would ban law enforcement agencies from having ticket quotas or using the number of tickets officers write to evaluate their performance. Rep. Justin Bamberg, D-Bamberg, is sponsoring the bill, saying the main reason for it is all the negative things going on between law enforcement and the public nationwide.
Law enforcement agencies we contacted say they don’t have quotas. Lt. Kelley Hughes, spokesman for the South Carolina Highway Patrol, says the SC Department of Public Safety does not have ticket quotas. “We expect our troopers to take appropriate enforcement action when they observe motorists violating the law, whether it is through a warning, ticket or arrest,” he says.
Chief Kevin Cornett, of the Springdale Police Department in Lexington, says his department doesn’t have quotas either. “It is a common misconception that law enforcement will have a quota,” he says, saying he even believed it when he was younger. “If I put a quota out there, my officers are going to go out there and, at the end of the month if they don’t have that number, they’re just going to write tickets for whatever they see, and that’s not what we’re looking for. That’s not at all what law enforcement is about or what we want the community to think we’re about.”
Rep. Bamberg says it’s hard to find an agency that will openly admit having quotas. He says if his bill passes, it won’t change anything at those agencies that don’t have them, but it will improve relations between police and the public if it does eliminate any quotas that do exist.
He represents the family of Walter Scott, the black motorist who was killed in North Charleston last year, shot in the back after a traffic stop. Former officer Michael Slager is facing a murder charge. Rep. Bamberg says one thing that was alleged in open court is that, if it weren’t for the North Charleston Police Department’s policy, Slager wouldn’t have stopped Walter Scott in the first place. Bamberg says the department required three traffic stops per shift.