Some Honolulu Police officers are feeling pressured to write more tickets because of a new policy.
Hawaii News Now has learned that an email was sent to about 20 traffic unit officers from a sergeant.
The email begins, "Some of you are consistently lagging in your stats!"
It goes on to say, "If you are not bringing in your citations 2 per hour"... "and a (drunk driving arrest) 2 to 3 per week"... "your take home car will remain at the station… the keys given to me at the end of your shift."
Members of the unit are among the few allowed the privilege of taking home marked, blue-and-white patrol cars. The department likes it because they can immediately dispatch officers when there is an emergency and officers like it because they don't have any costs associated with the cars.
Former police chief Lee Donohue says there needs to be a way to ensure officers are out working, and keeping track of the numbers is the best way to do that.
"If you don't monitor, then how are you going to say that they actually did their job?" Donohue says. "(It's) traffic enforcement - you have to enforce the law. That's what you signed up to do."
But others say setting such a number is a bad way to motivate officers. "Unfortunately it casts doubt over every officer when it may only be one or two officers slacking off," said defense attorney Victor Bakke. "I can question any officer's credibility on an arrest."
"The primary responsibility of officers assigned to the Traffic Division is to enforce the traffic laws, to include issuing traffic citations and making impaired driving arrests," says Major Kurt Kendro, the commander of HPD's traffic division, "Work guidelines were set, and the officers are expected to meet those guidelines."
Departments all over the country have similar requirements.
Quotas are illegal in some states, but not in Hawaii.
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