Illinois Supreme Court Strikes Down Police Agency Ticket Quota Program

In POLICEMEN’S BENEVOLENT LABOR COMMITTEE, Appellee, v. THE CITY OF SPARTA, 2020 IL 125508, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down the town of Sparta’s traffic ticket program for its’ police officers. The Sparta police department’s union sued over the city’s activity-points policy used for evaluating the performance of its police officers. The policy required all full-time officers to meet a monthly point minimum, based on actions that include issuing citations, making traffic stop warnings and taking on extra duty assignments.

The case was originally heard by the 5th district appellate court, which struck down the policy. The case was then appealed to the state supreme court, which upheld the 5th district’s opinion that the quota policy violated Illinois law. The law, undert the Illinois Municipal Code, that the police union argued was being violated states: ““A municipality may not require a police officer to issue a specific number of citations within a designated period of time … A municipality may not, for purposes of evaluating a police officer’s job performance, compare the number of citations issued by the police officer to the number of citations issued by any other police officer who has similar job duties.”

In the lawsuit, the city of Sparta argued that the policy did not violate the law because it does not mandate officers to write a specific number of citations during a certain period of time, and that officers could meet the monthly minimum without writing any citations.

The supreme cout disagreed stating in the opinion: ““The (Illinois Municipal Code), as it is currently written, expressly prohibits that practice, and the (code) must be enforced as written.” 

We will see if the city of Sparta and/or other police departments go back to the state legislature to lobby for a change in municipal code.

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