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High-ranking official tells Fla. troopers to write 2 tickets an hour

Officials said it was a part of a statewide initiative where troopers can make extra money working high-traffic areas

By PoliceOne Staff

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A high-ranking police official recently told troopers under his command to write at least two tickets an hour. 

According to The Tampa Bay Times, Maj. Mark Welch told troopers in an email that the “patrol wants to see two citations an hour.” He specified that it was not a quota, but a chance to support the Statewide Overtime Action Response (SOAR). The initiative, paid for by taxpayers, allows Florida State Troopers to make extra money patrolling high-traffic areas. 

The email allegedly thanked the government for the troopers’ 5 percent raise, which also increased overtime rates. Welch wrote that North Florida troopers are writing an average of 1.3 tickets per hour, but “that’s not good enough … so we have a goal to reach.” The order only applies to North Florida.

Sen. Jeff Brandes, who oversees the FHP budget, said state law prohibits ticket quotas.

"That goes against everything the Florida Highway Patrol should be doing," Brandes said. "FHP is about safety. It's not about meeting quotas."

Lt. Col. Mike Thomas said Welch’s word choice was off and he was not imposing a quota.

"It's like a want," Thomas said. "We're just trying to promote our guys getting out, making the stops, having contact with the public, educating them, and we do have discretion. No one has ever taken discretion away from a patrol officer."

In Miami-Dade, troopers who met their ticket-writing goals for March were given a weekend off, the publication reported. 

The FHP later reviewed the Miami-Dade memo and found no wrongdoing, but they withdrew the practice.

Next week, Gov. Rick Scott and the cabinet will look over a plan to boost trooper salaries an additional 10 percent. The annual starting salary would rise from $38,000 to $42,000 in a year.

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