Is there a quota system for New Mexico's state police?

Eyewitness News 4 | March 4, 2010
By: Jeremy Jojola, Taryn Bianchin,

Eyewitness News 4 has uncovered documentation that indicates some police officers have been mandated to write a certain number tickets per month or face possible punishment.

The information was found after an anonymous tip led us to file a records request for a patrol plan given to some state police officers last year.

The record says, "Santa Fe officers are mandated to average a minimum of 100 citations and three DWI arrests per month, along with any other activity."

The same goes for officers patrolling Pecos.

According to the patrol plan, the consequences for failing to reach that quota include: "lower evaluations ratings," "loss of overtime privileges," and "loss of the ability to switch shifts."

Eyewitness News 4’s Jeremy Jojola asked Chief Faron Segotta about the mandate.

Jojola: “That sounds like a quota."

Segotta: “Well, it's not a quota. I can understand where the public may think it's a quota. It's just like anybody who works out (of) the government sector or the private sector. You're expected to put a work product out."

Chief Segotta calls it a “minimum performance standard.” He says all 12 state police districts in New Mexico have different standards depending on crime levels. Segotta says officers have other work to do that could sometimes prevent them from meeting monthly standards, which he says is fine. But Segotta is adamant; he says there isn't quota.

"All traffic stops have to be observed by the officer, and the officer has to have reasonable suspicion and probable cause to issue the citation. And that's what we expect our employees to follow," said Segotta.

"Anytime they have what's called a performance expectation or a performance standard, it really is a quota," says Ousama Rasheed, president-elect of the New Mexico Criminal Defense Lawyers Association. He says quotas can pressure officers, especially during DWI stops.

"They stop somebody, and they're a 0.04 or a 0.05, they will make that arrest to meet their quota; and then whatever happens in court, happens in court, but that person still has to hire an attorney, go through the process, be charged criminally."

The chief adds that officers who don't meet their performance standard won't face punishment immediately. A sergeant will work with that officer to correct any problems.

In the meantime, Rasheed recommends drivers obey traffic laws -- as if there's a police officer in the passenger seat with you.