The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says they are not running a ticket quota system. The statement comes after an officer told his troopers they’re not issuing enough speeding citations.
State Highway Patrol Major Mark Welch is encouraging his troopers to write two speeding tickets per hour. Welch oversees Troop H, which monitors Franklin, Gadsden, Jefferson, Leon, Liberty, Madison, Taylor and Wakulla Counties. The Tampa Bay Times obtained the email Welch sent to members of the SOAR program, which stands for Statewide Overtime Action Response. Under the voluntary program, officers can patrol so called "hot spots", areas with high rates of crashes, in exchange for overtime pay.
The following is an excerpt from that email.
SOAR is an enforcement initiative and the patrol wants to see two citations each hour on SOAR. This is not a quota; it is what we are asking you to do to support this important initiative because it has been proven to drive down serious bodily injury and fatal crashes. As you can see by the attached report, for the last quarter, Troop H has held its own compared to other troops at 2.5 contacts per hour. However, when you look at citations per hour, we are at 1.3 so we have a goal to reach.
Many times, it is easier to issue a warning opposed to a citation for behaviors observed. But the only way to try to alter that behavior is by impacting the motorist with the sanction surrounding a traffic citation.
But the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says the move is not part of a ticket quota system, which would be illegal under state statutes. Agency spokeswoman Beth Frady says the money from tickets goes to local governments, not to the highway patrol.
"Citation revenue in this state actually goes to the municipality or the county in which the citation occurs. The Florida Highway Patrol does not benefit, if you will, from any of the citations it issues," Frady said. "So really at the end of the day if citation is issued, the only benefit to Florida Highway patrol is to potentially save lives."
Frady maintains the agency is operating in the clear, because citations are not tied to employment or compensation.
“FHP absolutely does not establish quotas, whether they’re on regular time, overtime, anytime. They do not have established quotas, nor is it tied to their pay or performance expectations,” Frady said.
The department says the uptick in citations is meant to prevent vehicle deaths and crashes in the state.