HPD sets quota for speed program, requiring officers to make more stops

Updated: Mar. 1, 2021 at 5:29 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Honolulu police officers who are participating in a speed enforcement grant program this month will have to pull over at least four drivers every hour.

An HPD traffic sergeant made the requirement for the federal grant clear in a recent internal email.

“For each hour of grant overtime worked, it is projected that each officer will generate FOUR (4) speed-related contacts,” the email said. “Each stop shall be counted as one contact”.

The email also said those who don’t meet the requirements could face disciplinary action.

Jonathan Burge, an attorney and former HPD officer, said quotas like this encourage officers to use common speed traps instead of areas where speeding can be more dangerous for the public.

“It’s not going to be the quality speeding tickets that normally you see,” Burge said.

“You’ll see some of the speeds lower. Where normally maybe an officer waits until 15 miles an hour over (the speed limit) they might hit them at 10 miles now.”

The quota is strictly an HPD decision because the grant program doesn’t have any minimum requirements set by the federal government.

“(The feds) don’t care how many tickets you give,” Attorney Victor Bakke said. “They want to see if the enforcement tools that are being used are resulting in less accidents, less deaths.”

He added that the quota puts officers in a difficult position, especially because there is the threat of punishment for those who don’t meet the hourly, four-stop minimum.

The email from the HPD traffic sergeant pointed out that if the department is unable to meet performance goals the department could lose future funding on federal overtime programs.

“That brings a lot of peer pressure,” Bakke said.

In a statement to Hawaii News Now, the traffic division major acknowledged that the four traffic stop minimum is not part of the federal program but points out that citations or warnings count as contacts.

The grant program runs through March 27.

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