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L.A. Council Approves $5.9 Million to Settle Traffic Ticket Quota Cases

LAPD officers sued the city claiming they were unfairly punished for not meeting the quota; LADP police chief said there is no quota.

Credit: Douglas Menuez, Getty Images
Credit: Douglas Menuez, Getty Images

The City Council on Tuesday approved a $5.9 million settlement to resolve lawsuits filed by LAPD officers who said they were pushed to meet quotas for issuing traffic tickets.

Officers Philip Carr, Kevin Cotter, Timothy Dacus, Peter Landelius, Kevin Ree, Kevin Riley, Josh Sewell, Vincent Stroway, James Wallace, Jason Zapatka and Marvin Brent contended they were denied overtime and were given bad performance reviews because they did not implement traffic ticket quotas.

Their attorney, Matthew McNicholas, said the officers were ordered to issue 18 tickets per shift. If they did not meet that number, a performance review would be written up saying they did not meet the goal, he said.

The settlement came after "grueling discussions," according to Gregory Smith, another attorney for the officers.

"I'm pleased and I'm sure the officers are pleased. They can put this matter to rest," Smith said.

LAPD officials denied that the department uses a quota system.

Police Chief Charlie Beck said officers should "spend 80 percent of their time" on violations that can lead to serious injury or death, but that does not qualify as a quota system "under the law."

He did not address allegations that officers in the division were told to issue 18 tickets per shift.

"It is unfortunate that this case cost the city hard-earned taxpayers money," Beck said. "The goal has always been to improve the productivity and accountability of our officers in order to reduce serious and fatal traffic collisions."

In April 2011, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded LAPD Officers Howard Chan and David Benioff a total of $2 million in a separate lawsuit after determining that supervisors had retaliated against them for complaining about alleged traffic ticket quotas.

The 2011 jury award made settling this cases involving the other 11 officers "the most prudent business decision," Beck said.

Officers who were witnesses in the previous case were among the 11 officers included in the $5.9 million settlement. Like Chan and Benioff, they also worked under Nancy Lauer, who was the commanding officer of the West Traffic Division.

Lauer is now a captain in the Harbor Division, according to the LAPD website.

Chan and Benioff contended in their lawsuit they had been punished with bogus performance reviews, threats of reassignment and other forms of harassment when they resisted demands from superiors to daily write a certain number of tickets.

City News Service

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