Florida Highway Patrol memo raises ticket quota concerns

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida Highway Patrol troop commander in North Florida is under fire for telling his overtime troopers to increase the number of tickets they write. However, law enforcement ticket quotas are illegal in Florida.

In a memo from FHP troop Commander Major Mark Welch, he tells troopers the patrol wants to see two tickets an hour, “We are at 1.3 so we have a goal to reach.” He also adds “this is not a quota.” Florida Statute 316 specifically outlaws quotas.

At an I-10 rest area, motorists said it sounds like a quota.

“Then the citizenry ought to stand up to it” the motorist said.

Bernie Minor was returning to Alabama.

“Sounds like you need to stop more speeders” said Minor.

Even Matt Puckett with the Police Benevolent Association, which represents troopers, says the same thing.

“A quota is a quota, and unfortunately this memo sounds like a quota.”

But the PBA also calls the memo distracting from the real issue; low pay and a shortage of troopers.

“The focus should be putting more troopers on the road, getting them the pay that they need” says Puckett.

Ironically, the major who wrote this memo is the former spokesman for the Highway Patrol, but they wouldn’t make him available so he could personally clarify what he meant.

The patrol did make Lt. Col Michael Thomas available to talk. (Watch 5 minute interview in player above) He says the major could have used better language.

“There is nothing that says the Trooper has to do this or there will be some imposed penalty to them,” says the FHP brass.

The FHP gets no money from the tickets its troopers write.

The memo was directed to troopers working what are called “hot spots,” areas where there have been fatal injuries or serious crashes are more frequent.

UPDATE: Since this report, WFLA received a memo to FHP Command Staff from DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes.

“DHSMV has a longstanding mission of highway safety to protect Florida residents and visitors on our roadways. I am proud of the work of our Florida Highway Patrol troopers and the critical role that they play in ensuring motorists Arrive Alive.

By now, I know you will have seen the media stories and press statements that have been released regarding an email asking that two citations be written every hour while troopers work overtime enforcement duty.

Let me be very clear: Quotas have no place within the Florida Highway Patrol.

Getting in the black and tan to patrol the roadways is expected. Helping to educate and assist motorists is expected. Protecting lives is expected. Quotas are not part of our mission operationally or legally.

It is more important than ever before that FHP be proactive in their efforts, but members should never be encouraged to meet specific citation numbers. I am directing you to ensure that no quotas are being issued from our troops and that no performance metrics are impacted by a quota.

Florida Highway Patrol troopers are the most elite law enforcement officers in the state and trained to address dangerous violators using their discretion with the ultimate goal of saving lives. I value that discretion. Those we serve expect and value that discretion.

From educating and providing guidance for new and inexperienced drivers to knocking on a loved one’s door at all hours of the night having to deliver a next of kin notification, Florida Highway Patrol troopers are heroes. The Florida Highway Patrol’s interactions with the public has a lasting positive impact on those we serve and our members’ commitment to protecting lives is what will ultimately help us achieve our mission of highway safety and security. I look forward to discussing this matter with you when you are in Tallahassee later this month. Thank you for your dedication and service to our state.” – Terry L. Rhodes, Executive Director of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

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