Metro Nashville's Police Chief denies that any officers are under a quota requirement to make traffic stops. But, a point system could be a possibility on some shifts depending on supervisors.
Metro Nashville's Police Chief Steve Anderson said he does not allow quotas within the department as a way of monitoring police officer productivity.
“If there were a quota we would be writing a lot more citations,” he said. “There is not a quota but we do expect people to perform public service in the time they are paid to.”
Chief Anderson told Nashville News 2 in an exclusive interview that a point sheet News 2 obtained could be the work product of a supervisor in one of the precincts.
“We have about 200 sergeants and 50 lieutenants,” Chief Anderson said. “I encourage them to adopt their own methods of supervision because that is the way they grow as leaders and supervisors.”
He continued, “This particular form may have been or may not have been a way a sergeant was tracking proactive work of the officers under their command.”
A North Precinct patrol officer gave the form to Nashville's News 2 in 2011.
On the sheet there are two categories, “proactive” and “time available”.
Under the “proactive” category, there are duties including physical arrest, juvenile physical arrests, juvenile citation arrest and traffic stops, among others.
Each duty has a point value. A physical arrest is worth one point, as are juvenile physical arrests.
Juvenile citation arrests are worth three-fourths of a point, and traffic stops are worth two-tenths of a point.
Under the “time available” category, points are deducted for alternative assignments, court time, incident reports and accident reports.
The two categories are then divided to produce a proactive-to-time available ratio.
Metro Police officers told Nashville's News 2 that officers who do not have enough points are reassigned to undesirable shifts, are assigned unpaid days off and have their take-home car privileges taken.
“We monitor their activities because we don't want officers just doing nothing,” he said. “Thankfully 99 percent of our officers don't have to tell them anything they are anxious to get to work.”
He continued, “Obviously there are a few that are content to just let the cars go by.”
Chief Anderson said proactive police work is an important part of prevent future crimes, vehicle stops are a major part of that goal.
“Traffic enforcement is law enforcement so I certainly don't apologize for the citations that are issued,” Chief Anderson said.
The chief said, however, most traffic stops do not result in a citation.
In an email to his command staff, obtained by Nashville's News 2, in September 2012 Chief Anderson noted that while traffic stops were increasing citations issued have decreased.
According to the email in 2007 on average each officer issued 2.2 citations per week.
That number fell every year with the lowest being 1.1 citations issued per officer per week in 2011.
When looking at vehicle stops citations were issued around 19 percent of the time in 2011.
In 2012 citations where issued 15.5 percent of the time.
As of April 2013 citations were issued 15.2 percent of the time this year.
“A consistent message I give to officers anywhere they are gathered is I expect proactive work,” Chief Anderson said. “Vehicle stops are part of our proactive work.”
In 2012, Metro Police confiscated more than 2,000 guns. Many of the guns were found as the result of a vehicle stop.
Officers were also able to catch fugitives and uncover drugs during vehicle stops.
“Obviously, anytime you have an opportunity to talk to someone in the car you get to find out what is going on inside the car,” he said. “Are there drugs in the car do the people have outstanding warrants that kind of thing?”
He continued, “Answering calls is the primary purpose for the officer on patrol, but I want them doing any work that is of a proactive nature in crime prevention whether its checking buildings whether it is stopping cars or interacting with people on the street.”
Fines collected moving violations are deposited in Metro Nashville-Davidson County's General Fund.
In 2011 the city collected $3.2 million, in 2012 they collected $2.9 million and the city has collected $1.1 million so far in 2013.
Metro Nashville is owed $2.3 million in fines from 2011, 2012 and 2013.