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Police ticket quotas not used locally

BY ANDREA MOORE amoore@paducahsun.com

Local drivers will be happy to learn that most police departments in the area do not have mandatory ticket quotas for officers.  

Quotas are now banned in Illinois by a law signed Sunday by Gov. Pat Quinn. The law applies to all local, county and state police. Though Kentucky has no similar statute, ticket quotas are rare in western Kentucky.

 Paducah Police Chief Brandon Barnhill said his department has no use for them.  

"We require our officers to be active, but they use their own discretion when to write tickets," he said. 

Benton Chief of Police Tracy Watwood said that he does not agree with quotas and his department has never had them. 

"The intention of writing a speeding ticket is to correct someone's behavior," Watwood said.  "If you can do that with a warning, then it helps the relationship between the police and the community."

Watwood said his department's goal is to slow people down, not to cost people money.  

"We have well-trained officers, and it is in their discretion to determine whether or not to issue a ticket or a warning,"  Eddyville Chief of Police Shane Allison said.  "Traffic law is created for safety, and it is up to the officer to determine if it is warranted."   

According to Rep. Gerald Watkins, D-Paducah, there has not been any legislation in Kentucky that would make ticket quotas illegal. But he believes that setting quotas is the wrong approach to running a police department.  

"I think it is up to the individual police department to make the correct call on whether or not a warning or a ticket is necessary,"  Watkins said.  "Officers should have the freedom to make the right decision and not feel the pressure of having quotas."

Contact Andrea Moore, a Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8684.

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