The head of the state agency that oversees the Florida Highway Patrol has a message for state troopers:  “Quotas have no place within the Florida Highway Patrol.”

The message was part of a memorandum regarding speeding tickets sent out Thursday evening to FHP leadership by Terry Rhodes, the executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

“Getting in the black and tan to patrol the roadways is expected. Helping to educate and assist motorists is expected. Protecting lives is expected. Quotas are not part of our mission operationally or legally,” Rhodes wrote in the memo.

Rhodes was responding to reports concerning an email written by Major Mark Welch and sent to troopers in Troop H, an eight county region that covers part of the Florida Panhandle including Tallahassee.

In his email, Welch basically told members of the troop that they needed to start writing two tickets an hour, especially after just being given a 5 percent raise by the Legislature.

The troopers who patrol that region are responsible for a 100-mile stretch of I-10 between Gadsden and Madison counties. It’s a stretch of highway notorious for speeders.

“The patrol wants to see two citations each hour,” Welch wrote in his e-mail to the troopers. “This is not a quota; it is what we are asking you to do to support this important initiative.”

That initiative Welch refers to is the Statewide Overtime Action Response program, or SOAR. It’s a taxpayer funded program that allows troopers to make extra money working overtime in high-traffic areas.

In her memo to to FHP leaders, Rhodes said “members should never be encouraged to meet specific citation numbers. I am directing you to ensure that no quotas are being issued from our troops and that no performance metrics are impacted by a quota.”

Rhodes will likely be asked about Welch’s email when she she goes before Gov. Rick Scott and the three elected Florida Cabinet members. She is scheduled to appear next Wednesday before Scott and the Cabinet to seek support for a 10 percent raise for troopers in next year’s budget.