SLED investigation shows CPD officers felt pressured to meet traffic ticket ‘quota’ for years

Charleston County News

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – An investigation by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division reveals a “quota culture” at the Charleston Police Department over the last few years.

Chief Luther Reynolds says that he asked for the investigation after hearing allegations of misconduct by officers within the CPD’s Traffic Unit.

“We talked about this very openly when it occurred. And I referred it specifically — initiated a criminal investigation because I thought this was so serious,” he says.

The report includes detailed statement, text messages and emails between multiple officers in the traffic squad. According to the report, all of the officers accused of misconduct say they felt pressure from their supervisors to write more traffic tickets than necessary.

One of the officers claims that he was “expected to write 80-100 tickets a week and “you know how to play the game.”‘ Another says “an officer was looked at as lazy or “not pulling their weight” if they came in under the quota.”

According to the officers, the quota was generally 80-100 tickets a week, also know as “the magic number.” In order to make that happen, many CPD officers decided to write additional unwarranted tickets to violators and then dismissing them in court.

[Information obtained from the Charleston PD of the number of citations each officer issued from March 2019 – June 2019]

When this information came to light, those officers decided to turn in their badges. Chief Reynolds believes it was those former employees who were the issue in his department.

“There’s some disgruntled employees that you may be referring to that are no longer employed that did some despicable things with this traffic complaint that we’ve identified and we’ve addressed.”

Chief Reynolds says there is now a new supervisor for the Traffic Unit and in April of 2019 he addressed the department to let them know that he no longer wanted to hear the weekly report for traffic tickets.

The Chief and other CPD officials have denied on multiple occasions the allegations that their officers have quotas when it comes to traffic tickets. Reynolds says it’s important that his department stays transparent with the public in every way they can.

“I don’t care about ticket numbers,” says Reynolds. “We have no quotas, we’ve never had quotas since I’ve been here, I’ve made it very clear that that’s not important to me. What’s important to me is saving lives.”

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