Police quotas rear their ugly head…again

I have written about DUI arrest quotas before, they are illegal. Quotas are when the police brass tells the rank and file police officers that they are to apprehend X number of traffic/dui offenders over a given period of time. If the cops do what they are told, they can be rewarded with anything from advancement to bonuses to time off etc. If they fail to meet their quota then bad things can happen, like retraining (think Cold War Russia).

The police routinely deny utilizing quotas stating that they are illegal (wink), which in fact they are according to Maryland Law. The basis for a stop and arrest is supposed to be purely one of probable cause of a crime, not one based in motivation of the police officer to achieve something of value for doing his job.

It seems that Howard County law enforcement (in this instance the Howard County Police Chief allegedly) got their/his hand stuck in the old cookie jar. Judge Hantman, sitting on the Howard County District Court bench heard the matter of a female driver that was stopped for speeding. According to Court documents, she had a .17 BAC and was charged accordingly. However, it appears that the police and the brass, acting allegedly in some part as a result of a Federal Grant, were given quotas to meet. This is a no-no. The brass knows this and the police know it too. Now, thanks to the enviable Honorable Judge Hantman, the police know that the Courts are watching, and that the Judges are not just going to go along with business as usual. Ie. Wink wink, arrest everybody and keep up numbers up, even if they were driving below the speed limit and have a .04 BAC. (which does happen).

It takes a lot of courage for a Judge to stand up to the “system” and do what’s right; it is not easy for any Judge to decide a case based purely on the law even if the outcome is going to be unpopular in the eyes of the police, the press and the public.

The Judges are elected to do their job and to do it based on the Constitution and the laws of this State. Unfortunately, there are too many Judges sitting on the bench today that lack the fortitude to do what is legally right, to do what this Judge did.

In far too many cases that lean significantly more in favor of a defendant, it can be difficult if not down right impossible to get a fair and appropriate verdict in some court rooms. That is not justice, it is not justice for the Defendant, nor is it justice for the people of this State. I say hurray to Judge Hantman and to the other Howard County District Judges; not only is she a beacon of light and a credit to the bench, but her brothers and sisters on this District bench are also among the fairest and most thoughtful in the State.

The Baltimore Sun Article can be found here.