Los Angeles City Hall politics revealed from an insider's point of view.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trutanich Outs LAPD QuotaGate Scandal

Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich is being hailed as a hero for taking an aggressive stance and refusing to cover up the long suspected practice of forcing traffic cops to fulfill a daily quota of traffic violation tickets.

Is this a routine traffic stop, or is the cop fulfilling his daily quota?
Thanks to City Attorney Trutanich, the truth has come out.
On Tuesday, April 12, 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that "two veteran motorcycle officers" were awarded $2M in a lawsuit because of their complaints about being forced to "write a certain number of tickets each day."

According to the LA Times, LAPD Officers Howard Chan and David Benioff, from West Traffic Division, "sued the department in 2009, alleging that they had been punished with bogus performance reviews, threats of reassignment and other forms of harassment after objecting to demands from commanding officers that they write a certain number of tickets each day."

Ticket quotas are illegal under state law and Officers Chan and Benioff alleged in their lawsuit that they were "expected to write at least 18 tickets each day."All but one of the 12 jurors in the case sided with the officers, concluding that the officers' reputations and specific employment actions against the officers by the department affected their careers after they reported the misconduct and refused to meet the quotas.

Thanks to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich, who rejected a $500,000 offer to settle the case and thereby cover-up the ticket quota scandal, the people of Los Angeles got to hear the truth. But for Trutanich's bold action the officers would never have been able to tell their story about how "they were ordered to scrap regular patrol assignments and sent instead to specific streets where they were more likely to catch motorists committing moving violations." The Times said.

The officers also gave us some new terminology in traffic ticket quotas; "orchards" or "cherry patches" are apparently cop-speak for good places to catch motorists.

If there is no appeal of the verdict, the City will have to pay $2M in damages plus attorney fees. Trutanich could decide to appeal the case, however, now that the cat is well and truly out of the bag, the appeal could be seen as pointless.

The Times also reported a statement by City Councilman Dennis Zine, a former LAPD motorcycle sergeant; "You can't violate the law to enforce the law," Zine said. "You can't mandate the number of tickets."

Now that Trutanich has outed the quota,  perhaps motorists will get more sympathetic treatment in traffic court if they ask the officer to tell the judge whether they got their ticket as part of a quota, or whether the ticket was issued at an "orchard" or "cherry patch." If successful, they can thank our City Attorney for doing the right thing.


Anonymous said...

Good job Nuch! I would have paid $5M to those cops to tell their story - it's disgusting. Thank you for doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

This blog is nothing but a pr scam for Trutanich and his thugs. You have completely twisted the story that the LA Times reported. It was clear that Trutanich was part of the cover up because he fought against the LAPD officers who wanted to tell their stories. Now he's trying to make himself out as a hero for losing the case and costing us $2M. He could have settled the case for $500k and the story still would have got out. He's no hero, he's a heel.