The state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles says no Florida Highway Patrol troopers were awarded extra weekends off based on the number of tickets they wrote to motorists.
The Miami Herald reported some troopers in Miami-Dade received extra time off based on their “performance” on the job, referring to the number of tickets written and traffic stops made.
A spokeswoman for DHSMV says the characterization of time off awarded to troopers was misleading.
“For your reference, no FHP members were provided additional or “extra” days off, monetarily rewarded or given paid time off for their highway safety activity,” said Beth Frady, the agency’s communications director.Rather, some FHP members, who had the most activity in their district, were offered a revised schedule.”
Troopers usually take their “weekends” on Monday and Tuesday, or Wednesday and Thursday. Frady says troopers who had the most “activity” were allowed to shift their weekends to Saturday and Sunday.
While citations and traffic stops are taken into account, Frady says “activity” encompasses a wide range of actions performed by a trooper while on duty. She says troopers were not rewarded for meeting any quotas.
The perception that FHP uses quotas is an image the agency has fought over the years. But it surfaced again last week when the commander of Troop H, which covers eight counties in the Tallahassee area, sent out an email suggesting his troopers write two tickets an hour.
“The patrol wants to see two citations each hour,” Major Mark 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.
The executive director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the agency that oversees FHP, was quick to send out a stern memo reminding FHP leadership that quotas have no place in the agency.
“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,” DHSMV Executive Director Terry Rhodes wrote in the memo.
Rhodes will surely be questioned later this week about the recent reports that some in the agency have been endorsing quotas without referring to them as such. She is scheduled to appear before Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet Wednesday morning for a regularly scheduled update about the agency.
“Executive Director Rhodes has made it very clear that quotas are not tolerated within the Florida Highway Patrol,” Frady said in an email sent Monday evening. “ED Rhodes and Colonel (Gene) Spaulding will continue to meet with FHP leadership to review how trooper expectations are communicated within the troops to ensure compliance with the directive.”