Judge concludes that the evidence tends to show Whittier, California police used illegal ticket quotas.
Six police officers in Whittier, California have taken a stand against ticket quotas, and now they will have a chance to tell their story to a jury. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Howard L. Halm last month found sufficient evidence to believe the officers have a valid claim.
Whittier, like many other cities around the country, used a technique called “shift averaging” to get around a state law banning explicit ticket quotas. Supervisors would tally up the number of tickets handed out by teams of officers on various shifts and punish anyone who failed to meet or exceed that average.
The officers who filed the lawsuit complained to their supervisors or to the internal affairs department that they believed this procedure was a thinly disguised quota. This, the officers argue, was when retaliation began. Black marks began appearing on the officers’ records. They were ordered to attend counseling sessions, transferred to less desirable duties and placed on performance improvement plans.
“Plaintiffs spoke out not only for the rights of themselves and their fellow officers, but also for the rights of the public, by speaking out against what they believed to be an unlawful citation and arrest quota as well as retaliation, harassment and intimidation for refusing to comply with or reporting such an illegal quota,” attorney Matthew McNicholas wrote.
The suit alleges the police department’s actions against the whistleblowers violates the protections offered under California labor laws, and the court found that the allegations were well founded.
“Plaintiff has shown evidence of enough facts that collectively give rise to a context that a jury could find amounts to a pattern or practice that constitutes an adverse employment action,” Judge Helm ruled. “He shows evidence that he was subjected to negative permanent annual evaluatopns, multiple negative trimester evaluations, an actual threat of demotion, a negative reference for a subsequent job, ordered documented counseling of the supervisory review, denying plaintiff sick time, and the failure to investigate the complaints regarding the quota. This final ‘act’ of refusing to investigate plaintiff’s complaints would allow future negative evaluations and reviews to occur.”
The judge found the last point was key, as police supervisors investigating the complaint would have found that it was unlawful to require officers to meet ticket issuance averages, and thus this could not have been used against the whistleblowers in their evaluations.
“Contrary to defendant’s assertions, the laws against police departments establishing quotas and ciations and basing performance evaluations and employment decisions on employees’ abilities to meet these quotas do affect the public at large,” Judge Halm wrote. “Should a peace officer, under the pressures of having to meet a quota in order to avoid negative evaluations and possibly demotions, not be able to exercise individual judgment as to each ticket or arrest given out, the public may be harmed in receiving tickets or arrest where they are not independently justified.”
A copy of the ruling is available in a 600k PDF file at the source link below.
Source: Rivera v. Whittier (Los Angeles, California Superior Court, 7/6/2017)