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Officers who alleged LAPD traffic ticket quota system win $2-million judgment

LapdA jury on Monday awarded $2 million to two Los Angeles police officers in a civil suit against the city and the department alleging there was a "quota system" for writing traffic tickets on the city's Westside.

Officers Howard Chan and David Benioff, veteran motor officers with the LAPD's West Traffic Division, sued the department in 2009, alleging that their captain mandated each motor officer to write 18 tickets a day, according to the suit.

In addition to the quota, officers were told the tickets they gave out had to be for "major movers" such as speeding, lane straddling or running a red light -- offenses that could each generate revenue of several hundred dollars each.

The civil court jury sided with the officers by a vote of 11 to 1. The damage award was for loss of reputation and specific employment actions against the officers by the department affecting their careers after they reported the misconduct and refused to meet the quotas.

"We're very hopeful that this will put an end to fleecing motorists on the West side of Los Angeles," said Benioff's attorney, Gregory Smith. "Quotas are a direct violation of the vehicle code and this case was about these officers being asked to break the law."

The city attorney's lawyer on the case, Shaun Dabbe Jacobs, who defended the LAPD in court,  argued that the department had broad goals rather than specific quotas and that the intent was to reduce injuries and fatalities on the road.

John Franklin, a spokesman for the city attorney's office, said Monday the department was reviewing the case and "weighing our options."

Former LAPD Cmdr. Paul Kim testified that factors such as weather, the price of gas and paramedic response times played a larger role in affecting traffic fatality and injury numbers.

In testimony, officers said they were assigned to specific "laser certified" streets from regular traffic patrols to increase their ticket output. These locations were referred to as "orchard" or "cherry patches."

"These kind of quotas undermine the confidence of citizens in the Los Angeles Police Department," said Chris Brizzolara, the lawyer for Chan.

--Andrew Blankstein
Twitter: @anblanx

Photo: Police officers outside LAPD headquarters. Credit: Brian Vander Brug/Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (82)

Thieves. Out and out thieves. I wonder how many off duty cops get tickets from their "brothers" when they commit major moovers. None.

Strange how the number of tickest goes up, when the economy goes down. I guess when the city goes broke from all of the unchecked spending, the number of motorist driving "erractically" climbs, hence....more tickets.

If LAPD started citing on duty cops making personal calls on their cell phones while driving, we could balance the LA City budget.

Someone should be reporting on the travesty of jaywalking tickets handed out regularly at downtown LA. Almost got run over by a squad car running a red light to issue a jaywalking ticket.

Not surprised in the least. It just confirms what many of us suspected -- that the LAPD in general, and Westside PDs in particular, are all about ripping off taxpaying motorists. To couch it in terms of "reducing injuries and fatalities on the road" is disingenuous and insulting. And then to refer to certain streets as "laser certified" and "cherry patches" just shows how morally bankrupt the LAPD really is. It's a quota system -- an ILLEGAL quota system -- and now it's been exposed.

Does the investigation just stop there? The captain still holds his job after asking law enforcement to break the law?

Get the picture, commanders? Quotas are ILLEGAL.
Follow the law you have pledged to enforce!

This ridiculous shakedown of the citizenry by the LAPD has got to stop! In the last two years, these parasites have set up three different, permanent laser speed traps along my morning commute. Combine that with the speed trap coming up Laurel Canyon Blvd. form the Valley every day on my way home, and I go through four traps every single damn day! These cops pull you over for going 40mph in a 35mph zone, and it's nearly $500 all said and done to take care of the ticket. This is simply robbery, condoned and sponsored by the state. It has ZERO effect on traffic safety; none of these traps are on unsafe areas of the road - just places where traffic finally starts to clear, so if you're late, you're likely to speed up a bit to make it to work on time. Listen, a-holes, you're not going to balance the budget on our backs!! The motto of the LAPD is "To Protect and Serve", not "To Harass and Extort".

So is there Captain going to get fired for costing the City of LA $2 Million dollars? Or did he or she get promoted.

This is ALWAYS about collecting money for the City. Anyone including the lawyers for LAPD who say otherwise are lying. Villaroagos probably gave the mandate to LAPD to begin this shakedown. Westsiders are too busy jet-setting around to pay attention - they just pay up and this is why Lincoln Heights or say Sun Valley or other low income communities were not targeted by this scam. Good job Howard Chan and David Benioff.

chango and beerhoff! the tickets payed you salary and showed you were on the job, not at winchell's.

Thanks to these fine officers for standing up for what's right. Shame on the LAPD Traffic Division!

Great! First Screw the Education system, and now screw the Police Department. Our society is going into the right direction.

Hope the california highway patrol reads this. AAA with a badge.

this is an outrage.... if you don't like your job, sue for an injunction to prevent them from sticking you with a quota. you shouldn't get $1 Million each AND keep your job AND a big fat pension. in fact you shouldn't get a cent, the people who were stuck with these tickets should be the ones getting the money through a class action. yet another outrage in our court system!!

The fact-of-the-matter. The state and city is broke. This is nothing less than war on it's people. The government unions have sent us all to the poor house. It's not a matter of political influence or party choice. The police have become overweight highly paid collection agents for the government. Look at the numbers, last year, over 250,000 more traffic violations than the year before. Most people just pay because the price is higher if they decide to fight.

2 million dollars? !!!! how much did the lawyers get and... where does that 2 million dollars come from?

Great, how many tickets will they have to write to pay that $2 million judgement?

I am shocked, shocked to know there are quotas for traffic cops in LA.

Next you will tell me that the LAPD profiles too

So, basically their commander wanted them to write 18 tickets no matter what? This, to me, is why the gangs are still running around L.A. running things. The police are more worried about generating revenue than protecting citizens.

Kudos to the two officers who refused and just wanted to do their jobs correctly and efficiently.

I knew it!
a bunch of robbers in police uniforms out to rob everyone.

Robbery being legalize behind the badges.

What's wrong with Quota's? All other countries have this so the $$$ come in and the public is "corrected" when they drive bad.

I applaud these officers who did not follow the mandate of their captain. I was one of the victim of this quota system, I am from the westside. This is what happen to me that cost me all in all $400.00+, I was driving along San Vicente blvd., then I saw a motorcycle police on my side mirror just park there on the side of the street, of course I have to be cautious not to make any mistake, so I past the police and told myself I am ok Idid not make any mistake, so on my rear mirror I was still glancing at the police, and I said ok he's not moving, to my surprise after probably after 5-10 mins. here is the policemen telling me to pull over so I did and I asked him whats the problem? he said I almost hit a brown mercedez and I said I did not see any and he said its probably because of your side window tint that you did not see it. Its impossible! but you cant argue,so I was written a ticket, it ruin my day!

Please stop being a thug and start being an officer. Kudos for the two officers (Chan and Benioff) who have the gut to stand up to their superiors (thugs)

Does anyone truly believe the police don't have quotas?

That cities benefit from tickets is a definite conflict of interest. Our law enforcement officers are basically reduced to being thugs for the city.

Good for them (the cops that sued). Why doesn't the city and our great State try saving money by curtailing those criminal pensions it set up for its lazy State employees.

Traffic cops, if they aren't writing tickets, what are they doing. The average ticket takes 5 minutes to write. What were they doing with the rest of the time they were getting paid?

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