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Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com April 11, 2012 at 9:05 am 3,346 83 Comments

Older ‘Quota’ Memos Released — Arlington County Police Chief M. Douglas Scott continues to insist that the police department does not and never did have a quota system, despite new memos being unearthed which set “goals,” “expectations,” or “levels of production” for arrests and tickets. [WUSA 9, Washington Post]

Documentary About Arlington Freedom Rider — A documentary is being made about Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, an long-time Arlington resident and one of the original Freedom Riders who fought against racial segregation in the South. [YouTube]

Contest Sends APS Teacher to Volcano — Gunston Middle School teacher John Stewart will be taking an all-expenses-paid educational trip to Mt. Kilauea in Hawaii after winning a contest sponsored by Wonder bread. While in Hawaii, at the country’s most active volcano, Stewart will “provide an interactive educational experience to his 8th grade students at Gunston Middle School, which will also receive 25 free tablet computers for the remote lesson,” according to a press release. [7Wonders of the USA Teacher Tour]

Flickr pool photo by Alex

  • G Clifford Prout

    If Chief Scott says it enough times it will be true. Oh BTW they’re now running speed west bound on the Pike near the Sheraton.

    • truth be told

      This is a common practice by ALL Northern VA police entities to increase revenue, whether put into writing or not. You can see it all over the place.

  • PUP

    kewl gravelly point photo.

  • Jackson

    “Chief Scott said he finds it hard to believe that he’s been chief for nine years and has never seen any of these documents until recently.”

    Chief Scott, by his own admission, is an incompetent manager.

    Arlington can do better than this.

  • Cakes

    Nice legs on the chick in the shorts.

    • DarkHeart

      Don’t you mean gams?

    • Patrick

      daisy dukes!!

    • GoodCall

      I thought the same thing. Great legs!

  • bobco85

    He will be a good sacrifice to Pele.

  • CW

    Football coach suspended for 1 year and loses $5 million for telling football players to hit opposing players hard and knock them out of a game? Ok, so what is the punishment for a police chief telling his officers to arrest potentially innocent citizens? What is wrong with this picture?

    • drax

      The chief didn’t write the memo.

      • CW

        And the head of the GSA didn’t hire the jugglers and hand out the gold-encrusted whatevers himself either. What’s your point? It’s called “taking the fall” also known as “responsibility for actions of subordinates” and it tends to happen to people in charge of organizations where bad behavior happens.

        • drax

          Just pointing out your inaccuracy: “for a police chief telling his officers”. He didn’t. You think he should take the fall for what someone else did, fine, just get the facts straight.

          • CW

            Chief Scott’s paraphrased statements in the WUSA9 article read like gibberish. He can’t be responsible for ALL 500 employees. Wow, I’d love to hear a Fortune 500 CEO pull that one at a board meeting. Who knows who knew what and when.

          • Lee-n-Glebe

            And there you have the genesis of Sarbanes-Oxley, a boon and source of consistent revenue to corporate and security lawyers everywhere.

          • Car-Free Diet

            That’s right, the earth will burn in a ring a fire and go off its axis before a person in authority takes responsibility for anything the Arlington County government does — a governing principle of “the Arlington way”.

            The police chief didn’t do it, a surbordinate did — another governing principle of “the Arlington way” — establish and maintain plausible deniability at all costs.

      • Homeland Security

        That is really lame……….. even for you !!!

    • JamesE

      The police were not instructed to take out the citizen’s ACL. (and those tickets get revenue!!)

  • yequalsy

    I sympathize with the police chief’s dilemma. You need ways to measure performance. Let’s take an extreme example. Let’s say you have an patrol officer who writes no tickets and makes no arrests for a month. There are two possibilities. The first is that no one is breaking the law and so the officer genuinely has no tickets to write or criminals to arrest. The second is that the officer is slacking. He’s hanging out in Dunkin Donuts, taking naps in parking lots, etc. (I guess there’s a third possibility, which is he’s taking bribes, but I wont’ go there.) Given that the first is unlikely, if I were a chief I’d conclude the second. So clearly it’s reasonable to have some expectation of ticket giving and arrests because people out there commit traffic violations, have warrants against them, etc. The trick then is to come up with expectations that reasonably reflect quality effort without creating incentives to write tickets just of the sake of writing tickets, which is the problem with a true quota system. But I could see where a description of reasonable expectations could sound an awful lot like a quota system.

    • drax


    • Clarendon

      It’s because speeding and many other offenses are victimless crimes that you have to go out looking for. A robbery happens and there is a wronged party and the crime is reported and the police go looking and hopefully catch them. We don’t know how many people are speeding (probably a lot though) so it’s impossible to say what percentage of these crimes are being caught.

      • drax

        And that’s the problem. Still, y’s point is that we all know that there are more than zero speeders out there. So, again, how do the police measure performance?

        • Car-Free Diet

          Replace the police with red-light and speeding cameras. Great for collecting revenue for Arlington County government. Will repel non-Arlingtonians from driving into the county. Extra benefit – supports the County’s “Car-Free Diet” initiative.

      • Curious George

        Victimless until the speeder loses control and kills someone.

        • JamesE

          happens 100% of the time when someone speeds, even going 60 in a 55.

          • drax

            Good point – we should make speeding illegal only when it kills someone!

            (eyes rolling)

          • JamesE

            30 in a 25 = genocide

          • Josh

            And I never speed, so I will agree with you from my high horse.

          • Curious George

            30 in a 25 is still breaking the law. I guess it is OK if it is also OK to lie, cheat and steal.

          • Arlington, Northside

            30 in a 25 is far worse/more dangerous than 80 in a 55.
            The 25 zone is because it is a neighborhood or school zone with kids running out in the street in very random order. The 55 zone has cars all supposedly headed in the same direction at speed.

        • GoodOmens

          If the police cared about safety – they would go after dangerous driving instead of speeding.

          Things such as aggressive driving, tailgating etc. I know in Germany they have cameras that issue tickets for tailgating on the Autobahn (which causes more crashes then speeding). About the only camera ticketing system I can get behind.

          • CW

            Glad to see that it only took two responses to this ridiculous comment about “losing control” for someone to invoke a Germany reference. Was going to do it myself.

            Sigh, would be nice to be able to drive across PA in 2 hours.

          • JamesE

            I watch videos of people doing 200 on the Autobahn and I dream.

          • drax

            I did too, when I was 12. Then I grew up.

            The idea that there are no speed limits on the AB is false. It’s much more complicated than that. There are limits for some vehicles, and on some stretches, and for some situations, such as passing. And you can be held liable in the event of an accident if you’re going faster than the recommended speed, which is posted.

            I prefer to simply limit speed than to die in a horrible crash and then have my heirs get some money for it because someone was going too fast. But that’s just me.

          • JamesE

            Going fast on the Autobahn is only for children, ok got it!

          • drax

            Yep, you’re right on top of things there, JamesE.

          • CW

            There is a lot of gross oversimplification going on here. Yes, the stereotypical perception of the autobahn as a thrill-seeker’s paradise with no rules is wrong. It is in fact a strictly-regimented, highly regulated system which works quite efficiently because users are responsible and agencies enforce the rules that are in place. This allows for the coexistence of safety and high-speed transportation.

          • drax

            They should go after BOTH.

            If you think speeding isn’t dangerous, advocate for raising the speed limits.

          • Arlington, Northside

            I do advocate for higher speed limits on the freeway where it is appropriate, and lower speed limits in residential and commercial areas where they are needed.

            Those that claim speed alone kills on the highway do not know what they are talking, and have not studied the facts. It is speed differential that makes the diffference there and/or unsafe equipment. Have better vehicle inspections and keep grandparents who can’t maintian their speed anymore off the road.

          • JamesE

            I drive in the left lane and block people from going faster, I am a concerned citizen.

          • granddaddy

            yes lets make the world revolve around the 20-30 somethings need to get somewhere fast

          • CW

            At least they can see over the steering wheel and hear emergency vehicles.

          • Arlington, Northside

            How about the 16-68 crowd not getting slowed up from keeping our economy moving to support the Social Security ponzi plan that is paying for the gas in grandpa’s ’92 Buick.

    • Car-Free Diet

      Yes, quite a dilemma; and yet professional police departments have been existence for over a 100 years throughout the civilized world and yet everyone knows written expectations of the number of tickets and arrests are wrong.

      How far are you willing to go? Do the police need to set written expectations for the numbers of arrests for murders, rapes, robberies, burglaries, stolen cars, drunk driving, etc…based on past statistics without considering the number of crimes may go up or down.

      How far are you and other apologists willing to go in shedding what little credibility you have with others who expect their county leaders are to be held accountable for their (and their subordinates’) performance?

  • MattL

    What I would like to see is no set limit on the amount of warnings. And since even warnings get recorded, it shows the officer is in fact doing their job, but he/she is not force to write the ticket to meet the “quota”. Also, I think all the revenue should got to the school systems or some other entity so officers and commanders don’t feel the pressure to write tickets to generate revenue for the department.

    • Josh S

      Where do you think the money goes now?

      • drax

        Matt seems to think that the police don’t get paid if they don’t write tickets or something.

  • Obviously

    Don’t speed and you won’t have anything to worry about. Speed and you are fair game. Quit complaining.

    • Obviously

      I say this as one who frequently speeds. If I get a ticket, I realize I have no one to blame but myself.

      • drax

        Better not cause an accident or someone else could pay for your actions anyway.

      • GreaterClarendon

        But you have to admit that there are some streets where it is ridiculous to go 35 mph, and should easily be 45 mph – so it is basically a speed trap.

        • Not sure

          How is it a “speed trap” when they speed limit signs tell you how fast to drive? Just look at the sign and it will tell you how fast you can drive. And these limits are set by departments, not the police, that have actually done studies and taken other factors into account, not by some random driver that thinks the limit is ridiculous and formed that opinion without any justification.

          • Not sure

            “post” should be between “they” and “speed” in the first line.

          • drax

            True. He uses the “speed trap” term wrong. It’s when the limit suddenly goes way down, usually just past a blind corner where you can’t see the sign or the local cop sitting there waiting for out-of-towners to detain until they pay the ticket in cash.

          • Arlington, Northside

            A speed trap consists of enforcement at a location where the speed limit suddenly drops or where 80% of traffic will naturally exceed the posted limit.

            Sometimes the studies that set the speed are out of date, sometimes the studies are not actually done, but rather taken from a table that says X denisity of homes/businesses should have a speed limit of Y for a distance of Z.

            We have many roads in Arlington where the limit IS set too low, and we have a few places where it is set too high, or is not well enforced.

          • Lee-n-Glebe

            Lee Highway, right by the Overlee Pool.

          • nom de guerre

            That’s because it’s haunted.

        • Arlington, Northside

          Example? Wilson Blvd is all I can think of off the top of my head. I can think of a dozen streets where the 25 mph limit should be enforced MORE.

    • SomeGuy

      Right. Don’t ever question authority or their practices. Never ask if this is for public benefit or just to flex muscle and/or raise revenue. Just lie down and take it, because the police are always right. So quit complaining, even if quotas in this scenario might be unethical

      Does that sum it up, Obviously?

      • Obviously

        Guy, I hate getting tickets as much as the next person, but speed limits are a matter of public safety and I understand that. I know that I’m speeding, and if it’s my bad luck to have gotten caught and thus have to help raise revenue, that’s my tough luck. I’m not saying the police are always right, I’m just saying I chose to speed. I don’t see the big deal about quotas for people who are truly breaking the law.

        • drax

          When you’re speeding and there’s a police quota, you’re not really speeding. It’s a law of physics!

        • SomeGuy

          I don’t think the majority of people are complaining about getting caught breaking the law. The complaint is that when you incentivize officers to maximize arrests, human nature suggests that they’ll find criminals among the innocent. So is it really about public safety at that point? Or is it about making numbers? And does that quota-based incentive begin to overtake an officer’s otherwise sound discretion?

          You can choose the very specific example of going 65 MPH in a 50 MPH zone and say, “tough luck,” and I won’t disagree (the public safety implications of setting artificially low speed limits is saved for another discussion). But the broader incentive structure that promotes high arrest counts is what I view as questionable.

          • Obviously

            I see what you mean, Some Guy. It would be interesting to know how many innocent victims, if any, get caught up in quotas. I will say I was issued a parking ticket erroneously in DC, probably by someone trying to make a quota, but at least the District had the decency to dismiss it.

        • Car-Free Diet

          There is a stretch of Route 7 in the city of Falls Church. It is a residential area so the speed limit is 25, yet it is a straight four-lane (2 on both sides) road with very few traffic lights. Because I am a careful driver I have been lucky and have avoided a ticket so far. But I have seen police on foot with a radargun pull cars over on a regular basis over the years. So many drivers find it so hard to stay below 25 in those circumstances its like picking apples for the police — yes, this one here looks fresh and juicy, I’ll pull her over.

  • TakingAwayFromOtherResponsibilities

    I’m not an expert on law enforcement, but does focusing on writing speeding tickets take away from any other responsibilities of police officers?
    Do they spend more time trying to trap people speeding than they should, neglecting following up on actual crimes or preventing actual crimes?
    Again, i’m not an expert, but it seems like these quotas could skew the focus of officers.

    • drax

      Not if there’s quotas, I mean, goals, for other crimes too.

    • Josh

      No, they have the quotas already set of the other things they should be doing already. As long as they hit their marks in all of the categories, they have not neglected anything. According to the experts who established what the quotas should be.

      • truth be told

        Oh my gosh, I’m an arrest short of my quota this month on pot busts. I had better make one today. Now where did I put that “evidence”. I may need to find it in a suspect’s car later.

        • drax

          Nobody’s defending quotas though, for any crime.

  • JimPB

    What are the performance criteria for the ARLCo police chief? If telling the truth about department policies, practices and behaviors isn’t one of them, it should be.

    It’s reasonable, indeed, desirable to have performance criteria. Put them out for all ranks and categories of work. Transparency and accountability should be implemented.

    For tickets, area(s) of focus, the amount of work time on a particular assignment and circumstances that would effect the volume of violations and their detection need to be taken into account. There also needs to be an effective check against arrests without merit.

  • Sorry

    I think we should disband the Arlington police department give everyone a free gun. That way everyone can take care of their own safety and security. It will also lower taxes in the county and the county board can spend money on more crap like a 300,000 dollar fence around the crap plant on glebe road, or fancy glass in the county building. Hell why we’re at it lets fire all the firemen too. Tons of savings we can make more speed humps that seems to control speed.

    • agreed

      Thanks Kalishnakev!!

    • Josh S

      “fancy glass”

      • i’m down with that

        We gotta admit: ‘fancy glass’ (whatever that is) is pretty fabulous.

    • Car-Free Diet

      I want the “crap plant” to smell better. I want something more than it not smelling like a “crap plant” when I drive by on Glebe Road, I want it to smell like a field of daylilies. I’m Gumby Dammit!

  • on a different topic – great photo. Love going there in the summer to watch planes take off and land. Very cool.

    About the police quotas – not surprised . . .

  • Homeland Security

    I have been always been a bit puzzled that they left Gravelly Point open after 9/11.

    Glad, but puzzled.

    • Curious George


      The Tweezer Seizer Administration probably forgot about it.

  • Louise

    Lucky teacher (and students!) Sign me up for next year, please.

  • S Tee

    Arlington County Police needs to be trimmed, held accountable and focus on protecting the county. They are often parked behind the Golds in Ballston, chatting away, in the side streets off Highland, etc. The murders are down, so they have less investigative work. They do not answer phone calls other than 911 and that’s another department. This police chief is not held accountable – I hope our new leadership will.

    • Whatever

      I am not a cop, but what’s the big deal that you see a couple cops parked somewhere “chatting away”? So what! When I go to work for my 8 hour day, I don’t work non-stop for the entire 8 hours. I sometimes take a personal phone call, and sometimes my coworkers stop by my desk to ask how my weekend was or how my night was. Why should it be different for cops? They do not have an office to hang out in. Their patrol car is their office. So why can’t they sit somewhere and talk in their cruiser? It’s no big deal.

  • MC

    Metrics are as good as what they measure. I would like to see metrics that ask police to record citations and tickets for areas of known danger, where there have been accidents in the past. Nothing wrong with targets goals, but make them tied to real things that matter, not just what’s easiest to do, like being a the bottom of a steep hill.

    • Car-Free Diet

      If the police chief lifted his foot off the necks of Arlington’s Best, the amount of mayhem and violence that would be set loose would astound the average citizens. Speeding would run rampant, more pedestrians would be run-over and killed, gang attacks would skyrocket, citizens buying gins for self-protection would shoot-up.

      Right now behind close doors the police chief is yelling at the top of his lungs that he can’t be honest with the public because the citizens of Arlington can’t handle the truth. Without the thin blue line protecting us, Arlington would become as violent as Chicago, if not Baghdad. Arlingtonians don’t know it, but they need quotas.


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