Howard County Police Accused Of Issuing Citations To Motorists To Meet Quotas

HOWARD COUNTY, Md. (WJZ)– Howard County Police are under fire Friday with officers accused of pulling over motorists simply to meet their quotas.

Weijia Jiang has the latest on this brewing controversy.

The practice in question is using a quota system. The defendant’s lawyer produced a paper trail that showed Howard County Police were asked to issue a certain number of citations, and that is against the law.

When Katie Quackenbush, 22, was pulled over for speeding on Ellicott City’s Main Street, she was also charged with drunk driving– the amount of alcohol in her blood more than twice the legal limit.

But this week, a Howard County judge threw out the DUI charges ruling the arrest was linked to an illegal quota.

WJZ obtained a copy of the police memo at the center of the case. In it a supervisor advises DUI patrols an average of 2-4 citations must be written per hour on each of these details by each officer or future funding may be withheld.

It also said, you need to stop as many vehicles as possible, looking to make a DUI arrest and warnings don’t count.

Quackenbush’s lawyer says even if his client was drunk, it’s irrelevant.

“The only way to teach you not to violate people’s constitutional rights is to say you don’t get to go forward with the rest of your evidence, and that’s the message that was sent,” attorney Mark Muffoletto said. “There’s a right way and there’s a wrong way, and this was the wrong way to go about it.”

The judge did not provide a written opinion, nor has she commented on why she made the ruling.

“This judge in this case made a ruling I don’t agree with,” Howard County Police Chief William McMahon said.

He insists the department does not use quotas ever. He chalks up the supervisor’s memo as a bad choice of words.

“Look, this officer is committed to traffic safety,” he said. “It was a well-intended memo, but in retrospect it wasn’t worded well.”

McMahon says the memo has been pulled. But the police union says the damage is done.

“It’s unfair, the officer went out did the best job, did everything right,” FOP Lodge 21 President Gregory Der said. “Because of an administrative issue, the case got thrown out.”

The police chief tells us he’s consulting with the state’s attorney to decide whether to appeal the judge’s ruling. But for now, Quakenbush, who was accused of DUI, is completely cleared.

It’s unclear how many Howard County cases similar to this one might be affected by the ruling. The same judge is reviewing at least two others.

  • Terry

    Twice the legal limit!!?? Someone is gwtting paid or has a friend that is a Judge. This is BS!!! Justice for those that can afford it!

  • Boodrow

    Ha Ha! Officer Johnnie Riley the blue line snitch sent out the memo to the news huh? And you guys still have him working for you. What a shame.

  • Tony

    What doe’s a memo have to do with being pulled over for speeding and twice the limit ? I hope if I get caught legit doing something wrong , someone finds a memo to negate it .

  • jimmy

    using this logic a murderer should be let go if the police department says, “we should catch 2-3 homicide suspects a month”. quotas should not be used but the use of a quota should not negate proven wrong doing. way to be a good citizen katie quackenbush….hope you dont kill someone next time u are cruzing around at a .16

  • No way

    I think not, I have to disagree with the lot of you. This is what happens when you skew the law to make MONEY. Just like any other criminal, you get caught. The worst part is that this little DUI princess gets off and maybe next time she gets behind the wheel, she ends up hurting someone’s child! Nice job! Way to keep us safe!

    It is appalling what the PD’s in this state get away with on the roads. Absolutely shameful. Either do it right, or the rest of us suffer for your greed. Thanks.

    • Rick Smit

      Was a badly worded memo but the officer that wrote it should have done a better job or just copied the exact wording from the funding arrangements if English wasn’t his strong suit. I don’t think the memo had anything to do with a legally drunk women’s scientific breathalyzer thou. The checkpoint was going to be there no matter what memo was sent out. I believe in policing the police, but this is just taking something out of proportion. I bet good money they bust that women again.

  • Squaregrouper

    I agree with the judge- Quotas are illegal and this was a quota. Think of it this hypothetically… Officers were told they need to set up a speed trap and catch 10 speeders per shift. If they don’t get enough drivers flying down the road they will start handing out speeding tickets for doing 56 in a 55. Do we want “Big Brother” watching us THAT closely?

    • balimore resident

      well you say 10 speeders per shift, if they get YOU doing 56 in a 55, then you are guilty of speeding, the sign says speed limit 55 not speed limit anything you feel is ok as long as you don’t get stopped by the police.

      • no way

        don’t be obtuse, if you’re going to have a grown up conversation, try to come up with something better than “1 mile over the limit is speeding”. for heaven’s sake.

      • Squaregrouper

        My point was this… If police officers are told by their superiors they NEED to issue citations or face repercussions, the officers WILL find something wrong/illegal with every citizen in the country. Those are Gestapo tactics which American citizens should not be subjected to. Baltimore Resident- I’m not going to get in to a flame war, but do you honestly believe the police should issue speeding tickets for going <1/2 of 1% over the speed limit?

    • No Way

      exactly, very well put.

    • Justathought

      Where in the world did you get that statement? Have you read the memo or are you just posting something that you made up. Get your facts straight, this is not what the memo says. Even if…don’t be upset when someone runs their car into your house because their drunk…happens almost every night my friend!

  • HAHA

    I think for a solid month all the police departments should get together and use ABOSOLUTE enforcement.

    MD says 1MPH is illegal. If your headlight is out…no more “fix it tickket’ hit them with the ticket. No warnings for stop signs or seatbelts.

    This would fix the quota debate once and for all when the citizens and courts so just how many violations are sparred from court via warnings.

  • colliemom

    This was not a quota; story is incomplete. Howard Co got federal money to pay for extra police to be on patrol. The federal grant, reasonably, required some way to measure if the money was being used well; they set an expectation that an officer they were paying for would make at least about 3 stops per hour. The officer did not stop people randomly; this lady was speeding so had reasonable cause to stop her. After pulling her over, confirmed she was driving drunk. Absolutely no reason for the judge to make this ruling; lady was speeding and drunk and a threat to all of us. Bad judicial decision; expect a judge to act to protect citizens, not play games with symmantics.

  • hm....

    At what point can you supervise police officers and ensure they are providing the service that is expected by telling them what is expected from them during a shift without violating a “quota”

  • TruthTelling

    Having policed for a number of years, I can state that this activist judge is totally off the mark by her decision. She is NOT paid to “legislate from the bench” which is exactly what she is doing. Any officer in MD would have AMPLE probable cause to stop this woman for speeding and AMPLE probable cause to arrest her for DUI. The issue of whether or not a quota is, or is not, in place is legally irrelevant. As to whether officers are “abusing the motoring public” as some posters seem to think here, all officers turn in citations daily at the end of their shift. Supervisors review them the same as reading all the officer’s general reports. If an officer is writing what we call “chickens–t” tickets, the officer is dealt with appropriately. One poster here believes that police are gestapo who write people for one mile overt the limit. That is ridiculous on its face. There is NO officer I have ever worked with that does this and there are not enough hours in a day to do so. I say to the posting body at large what I have told countless officers under my command. Simply, be fair, be right, and just give me 8 good hours out of 10 per day. Concentrate on where the problems are. If you can’t tell me where the five most deadly or hazardous accident locations are on your post, you don’t know your business. What are the violations leading to, especially, fatal or injury producing wrecks? If you patrol 8 to 10 hours per day, if you do not see one or more accident-producing violations, then you are not looking. This judge needs to take advantage of the “Ride Along” program and get a dose of reality.

  • dave

    The 22 yr old should have just given the cop a blow job & avoided all this controversy.

  • BitterB

    Howard County PD pull over drivers left and right on Rt 4o, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a traffic stop. They tried to get me to drink some Listerine before doing the breathalyzer they forced me to take, the officer said it would help me with the test. He then threatened to cite me for not wearing my seat belt when I removed it to reach for my wallet. When my driver’s license blew out of his hand right in front of me, he then began to write me a ticket for not having a driver’s license. HCPD must need more money or thier trsining needs to improve.

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