Cop Sues Police Department Over Unlawful Ticket Quotas

Next time a cop pulls you over for no apparent reason and asks you if you know why he pulled you over, maybe you should respond, “Because you’re trying to meet your quota?”

Actually, don’t say that. They might get mad and arrest you for “assaulting a police officer” or “resisting arrest.”

Quotas vary per police department. Of course, they don’t call them quotas. They don’t call them anything. That’s why no police department will acknowledge their existence. They’re sort of an unspoken rule. And if you’re a cop, you’re expected to keep your mouth shut about the unspoken rule (like the first two rules of Fight Club), and in return for yielding more citations and arrests, you get approved for overtime, and you’ll get promoted, which means more money for you. And it also puffs up the department’s numbers. So, it’s a win-win for everyone. Except for those people being targeted, that is.

Every now and then, there’s a good cop (or a better one, anyway) who doesn’t like this system. He doesn’t like it that they’re being encouraged by their superiors to target certain people unlawfully and for the sole purpose of “increasing their numbers.” It might be black males between 18 and 30. Or, in the case of the Mendham Township, New Jersey police department, young college kids.

Officers in this 15-member department were told to look out for college parking permit stickers on passengers’ cars. When they spotted one, that was enough to pull that person over. They were looking specifically for kids in their late teens, early twenties. They’re not looking for probable cause here. They’re looking for the greatest probability in being able to ticket these kids for something. The cops were even told that they could always get a motorist for something illegal once they pulled them over.

Now, the whistleblower cop in this department is suing the department for being passed by for promotion, as well as having to succumb to the department’s retaliatory actions against him for speaking out about their quota policy. Writing for the Daily Record, Peggy Wright reported:

A 16-year officer in the Mendham Township Police Department has filed suit against the force, alleging he has been bypassed twice for promotion and denied chances to earn overtime because he refuses to “profile” young drivers for tickets.

Patrolman Robert Wysokowski — a 43-year-old officer who started his law enforcement career in Mendham Township in 1998 at a salary of $36,425 — filed suit under the state’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act, also known as the Whistleblower Law. As of last year, Wysokowski was earning $99,192 annually.

The complaint, made public Wednesday in Superior Court, Morristown, seeks promotion to sergeant, punitive and compensatory damages for “all lost benefits, wages and rights,” and damages for emotional distress.

[…]

Wysokowski contends that he has consistently met department standards on enforcement of motor vehicle laws but beginning in 2005, under now-former Police Chief Thomas Costanza, he was told he had to “increase his numbers.” The suit says that in 2005, Crawford, who was then a sergeant but now is chief, advised Wysokowski to “seek out and target younger drivers for motor vehicle stops.”

“Crawford told plaintiff that it was ‘good police work,’ or words to that effect,” the lawsuit said. The complaint said that Wysokowski has been advised by superiors that he can always find an infraction when he stops a vehicle.

“Then-Sgt. Crawford advised plaintiff to pull over any car with a group of younger drivers/passengers who appeared to be in their late teens or early twenties. Crawford went so far as to suggest to plaintiff that he should look for vehicles with a Morris County College parking permit or other identifier and to stop that vehicle,” the lawsuit charged..

Wysokowski claims that he repeatedly stated that such profiling was against laws regarding probable cause to stop vehicles but was advised “to keep his mouth shut.”

The lawsuit alleges that 2005 was the beginning of a continuing pattern of retaliatory conduct that continues to this day. The alleged retaliatory actions have included reprimands for draining the battery on a police vehicle, being visited at home when he called in sick, being accused of failing to meet ticket “quotas,” being denied overtime chances and being passed by for promotion twice to sergeant in the 15-officer department, including last year.

Wysokowski charged that he has been written up unfairly multiple times, for allegedly being late for work and even for giving juveniles summonses for local ordinance violations for being in a park after dark. And through it all, he said, the pressure to meet quotas is applied.

“Defendants continue to encourage officers to write as many summonses and effectuate motor vehicle stops regardless of whether probable cause exists, including a quota implemented in or about November 2013 whereby patrolmen assigned to a detail were required to write 15 tickets in a four-hour span. According to (a sergeant), if an officer did not issue the 15 summonses, then that officer would not be eligible for overtime,” the lawsuit said.

He also charged that superiors “systematically train” younger officers to shine lights into moving vehicles to determine the age of drivers and passengers.

This is why they have to flout the Constitution. It stands in their way when so much of what they do is purely for revenue purposes and to comply with the department’s quotas just to keep their jobs.