ROME, N.Y. – Rome Police Department was ordered to stop establishing ticket quotas after the police union filed a grievance in February of 2019, claiming officers were asked to write a certain number of tickets over a set period of time.
The grievance was listed in the new Rome police reform plan to be reviewed by the advisory committee. According to the plan, the city and police administration collaborated with its watch commanders to ensure that "this practice is ceased immediately and will never occur again." No further action was advised by the committee.
Det. Jeff Lanigan, president of the Philip S. McDonald Police Benevolent Association union, issued a letter detailing the case, and clarifying the findings.
“The letter pretty much spelled out exactly what had occurred with this ticket quota. Chief Beach kind of gave a watered down version of it, and to the members of the union, we didn’t really feel that gave justice to what we have been through over those years," said Lanigan. "And the amount that it actually meant to us to win that arbitration and to have that as a victory."
Arbitrator Ronald E. Kowalski reviewed the case in 2019, and found the City of Rome in violation of Labor Law Section 215-A, which prohibits ticket quotas. During arbitration, officers testified saying they were expected to issue one ticket a day and at least four radar speeding tickets per month. The officers also said they were counseled both verbally and in writing when the numbers were not met.
Lanigan says the department kept a log of how many tickets were issued on a regular basis, and addressed officers verbally or put documentation in their personnel files if they did not write a certain number of tickets. The department also instructed officers to write more radar tickets, because they created more revenue for the city, according to Lanigan.
In April of 2020, the city was ordered to “cease and desist from establishing a ticket quota and engaging in counseling directs at the specific maintenance of such quota.”
Lanigan went on to say, “I don’t want this to reflect negatively on our officers that are on the ground but I want the public to realize that those are the officers that fought this, they are the ones that stood up and said 'this isn’t fair.'"
In the court order, Kowalski said while the city has the right to evaluate officer performances and counsel them when improvements are needed, it is illegal to specify a number of tickets that should be given in a certain period of time, according to labor law.
Read the full court order below: