Traffic Ticket Quotas Alleged In Ongoing State Police Overtime Probe
Massachusetts State Police have long denied that officials use quota systems for issuing tickets to drivers, but a revelation from federal prosecutors investigating a now-disbanded state police troop alleges otherwise.
Federal prosecutors say troopers assigned to Troop E, which patrolled the Mass Pike before it was disbanded last year, were expected to issue a minimum of eight to 10 tickets per shift under an overtime program aimed at reducing crashes and aggressive driving.
Troop E has been at the center of an ongoing overtime abuse probe. More than 40 troopers have been implicated in the case; several have pleaded guilty for collecting pay for hours they did not work. The allegation about the quota system was revealed in a sentencing memo filed last week for one of those troopers who pleaded guilty, Eric Chin, and it was first reported by Mass Live.
The alleged quotas were part of an overtime program called AIRE, or Accident and Injury Reduction Effort. Prosecutors say if troopers repeatedly failed to issue the recommended number of citations, they could be blocked from working the overtime shifts again.
The investigation also found that troopers working the AIRE shifts often didn't work the full number of hours they logged.
"Troopers assigned to these shifts who chose to abuse this overtime benefit would write the minimum number of tickets, and then simply go home," according to the sentencing memo. "In many instances, these troopers would obtain the minimum number of citations in an hour, or less."
Prosecutors also say that under certain circumstances, some troopers would forego writing any tickets — and working altogether, such as during periods of inclement weather. "Reminiscent of a grade school ‘snow day,’ these troopers treated the AIRE overtime program as if it were a paid holiday,” the document states.
State police spokesman Dave Procopio said in a statement Tuesday that the department has since implemented several reforms, including the elimination of both Troop E and the AIRE patrol program.
"While the department does not comment on ongoing legal proceedings, the department has no policy or operating procedures that establish quotas, and does not endorse a quota system," he said in the statement. "The department has not received any grievances from union members about a loss of overtime opportunities based on failure to meet an alleged citation quota."
Chin's attorney, Douglas Louison, told the Globe he did not dispute the quota allegations prosecutors made in the court memo.
WBUR's Bob Shaffer contributed to the reporting of this story