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El Cajon Police Department has a quota system

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2015 | Firm News |

I played football in both High school and college (I was an Academic All-American BTW).  This seems like the steak dinner and stickers we used to get for big hits (not all the hits were within the game).

Officers already have incentive to arrest.  They get numbers.  Their resume gets beefed for promotion to Detective, Sgt, Etc.  They get overtime.  There is already so much out there that quotas just throw it over the top.

As a former prosecutor I heard the term “Proactive patrolling”.  This is when the officer is looking for crime and finds it.  He is not responding to a 911 call or being flagged down.  This is when they believe crime is afoot and they investigate.  Obviously, this is a duty of a patrol officer when not on a call.  However, many officers go through the motions at times and drive around without that dilligence (hello…they are human).

Is it outside the realm to believe there is some kind of internal incentive to keep the officers on their feet?  The trouble is they carry an important duty of enforcing the laws.  More imoprtantly, they should protect the rights of the citizens in their community.  The battle between what is right and self interest is prevalent in many occupations.  Few may be more important than the battle with police.  I hope this is not the case.  We shall see what develops.


Police quotas for arrests and traffic tickets may be illegal, but sources say they’re a daily part of life at the El Cajon Police Department.

“It’s a pressure to go out and get stats instead of quality arrests,” said a source, who did not want to be identified because of fear of retaliation from the department.

You can see a blurry picture that was taken in the briefing room at police headquarters. On the left in the photo, under the heading of “results,” is a list of officers’ names. Next to those names are scores; the highest score is 6.5 and the lowest is zero. The zero has a big box drawn around it and red arrows that point to the low number.

The next column shows the scoring key. SI stands for self-initiated, RC for radio calls, CM for citations for moving violations. M stands for misdemeanors and F means the charge is a felony. Felony charges carry more points. The key also lists point values for impounds and solo units.

Sources say the officers with the best scores are rewarded with things like Starbucks gift cards and meals at local restaurants.

“I’ve seen gift cards given out for the most arrests or the first arrests, and it’s disgusting to me,” said an insider. “That’s just not why I became a cop. We can do better as police officers. The community can be better if we’re not forced to answer to a certain number. That’s not how you get a good cop, that’s just how you get a ‘Robocop’ out there.”

The police insiders say the point system is used during officer evaluations and even promotions.

“Most of the cops want to do the right thing, but when your career is threatened or your chance of promotion, and you’re new and impressionable, it’s easy for you to fall pretty to that mentality,” said an anonymous source.

Investigators reached out to El Cajon police, providing a copy of the photograph. The department did not deny the photo was taken in the briefing room at headquarters but did deny it is evidence of a quota system.

Requests for an interview with El Cajon Police Chief Jim Redman were denied.

The department’s spokesperson, Lt. Michael Moulton, sent this written statement to Team 10:

From the news…

I met with you on Tuesday January 27, 2015, at which time you showed me a photo of the El Cajon Police Department’s briefing room white board. You indicated to me you believed the photo indicated the El Cajon Police Department has some type “quota system”. First, without reservation I can state that the El Cajon Police Department does not have any type of “quota system.”

The photo in your possession depicts the names of several officers, with numbers next to the names. This information illustrates the amount of work performed by the officers during a patrol shift. This was born out of banter between the officers over essentially who performed more work during the shift.

A common method of evaluating officer performance includes using statistical data such as arrests, traffic citations, etc. Our officers are encouraged to be proactive. We expect our officers to perform at a high level and we believe the citizens of our community expect high performance from our officers. Statistics are one of the few metrics we can use to measure performance. More importantly than statistics, we encourage intangibles such as community interaction and long term problem solving. For example, if an individual officer has low levels of statistical performance but is committed to community problem solving, we encourage that. However if an officer has low levels of statistical performance and is not engaged in the community, there is a performance deficiency which needs to be addressed.

In the particular photo you have, those involved chose to use a point system to illustrate the statistical data. The use of this type of system is not a common or acceptable practice within the El Cajon Police Department, and appears to be an isolated incident. Our initial investigation indicates the enforcement actions were completed before the point system was applied to them, and this incident occurred in late August of 2014. Although capturing and comparing statistical data is extremely important, we feel the use of this type of point system is inappropriate and the Chief of Police has initiated an administrative investigation into this incident. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.”

Team 10 contacted attorney William Wolfe, a former Escondido police officer, showing him both the whiteboard photo and the response.

“Certainly banter is something that goes on in a briefing, but in this particular case it looks like they assigned a point value to certain types of activity. I’ve never seen that before,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe noted that while he doesn’t know what the point system means, it’s clear that someone in the department is keeping track and is doing it in a place where others in the department, including higher-ups would have been able to see it.

Wolfe said that when you start awarding points and gift cards to officers as a reward you take away their discretion.

“If in that officer’s mind he’s saying, ‘Two more moving violations and I get a Starbucks card,’ I’m taking his discretion away from him and encouraging him to make some sort of proactive activity, be it a citation or an arrest that he may not have otherwise made because he wants to win an award,” said Wolfe.

Wolfe said that as a defense attorney, the knowledge that there is a point system might make him and other lawyers question the validity of some arrests.

“That’s the concern you create, and if that officer who won those awards is on my case and I’m aware of it, I’m certain to cross-examine him on it because the jury would want to know, was this done, and did he fudge a little bit on the facts because he wanted to make sure he had the most number of those arrests for the month because there was money on the line?” said Wolfe.

El Cajon police have not said when the administrative investigation will be complete.

The full video can be found here.

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