Sunday, August 08, 2004

Today's Washington Post carries a story on the police in Falls Church, Va. The cops there have strict quotas. They have to make three arrests or give out three tickets per day. If they don't, they're automatically put on probation. Over time, cops who don't meet their quotas can get fired.

Obviously, this is pure revenue generation on the part of the city.

But leaving aside the pedestrian concerns which arise from handing your police quotas, there are two overarching problems:

(1) The quota system drastically undermines respect for the law. Which over time, will result in more crime.

(2) The quota system means that, as a statistical matter, crime in Falls Church can never decrease.

Crazy people on the left often insist that the United States manufactures foreign enemies to feed demand for the military industrial complex. (Paging Dr. Caldicott!) But in this case, that's exactly what could happen. If criminal acts in Falls Church dropped precipitously because of, say, a particularly effective police chief, no one would know, because the police officers on the street would have to keep making arrests and handing out tickets. The geniuses at Falls Church City Hall have required their police to keep crime at a consistent level.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree that a quota system for police has many drawbacks, but I think your main point about "crime" being unable to statistically decrease relies on an overly broad definition of crime. I don't think most people would define driving with a brake light out as a "crime." Therefore, if incidents of theft or assault decreased, the police could still meet their quota by writing more tickets for moving violations. Incidently, one point in favor of the quota system might be fairer enforcement of the traffic laws - the average guy will still get his ticket, but now the cute blonde might get a ticket as well (instead of a wink and a warning). Selective enforcement of the laws can also erode respect for the law.