Policing or Profiteering?

Many police critics have long suspected money, moreso than safety, has driven police ticketing. Of course, we know they are wrong. Or are they?

Among LEOs themselves, opinions vary as to whether this phenomenon really exists or whether, if it does, it is to be commended or condemned. On one hand, if people are going to commit violations of the law, and we are to address those violations, then why not step up enforcement, improve public safety, and help our employers out in this tough economy. There are many non-LEO citizens who are supportive of that idea, as well. The opposing view generally takes the stance that, "Yes, it is our job to enforce the law and hold people accountable and this sometimes means they are going to have to face the consequences and pay a fine. But we should enforce the law because it is our job and it is the right thing to do, but only for the sake of the law and its safety and justice purposes only, and always mindful of the discretion we are afforded. The money should never factor into our decision."

Now, those are very simplified versions of very complex arguments, or course, but they present a framework for our closing questions:

  • Does "policing for profit" exist; where there are written or unwritten expectation officers will enforce the law with an eye toward revenue enhancement?
  • Have you ever been directed or pressured to increase your enforcement efforts in order to generate more revenue for your governing body? Do you know any brother or sister officers who have?
  • Are practices such as enforcement quotas (where still legal) or "performance standards/goals/expectations" (where "quotas" are not legal) good for officers, agencies, or communities? Or do they cross into the realm of unethical practice? Why?
  • Is enforcement with an eye toward revenue good practice? or is it unethical, or falling somewhere in between? Why?

We invite your thoughts and responses, in the comments section of this column if you wish them to be public, or to my email (ofcmike@gmail.com) if you do not, signed or anonymous. We hope to hear from you.

  • Enhance your experience.

    Thank you for your regular readership of and visits to Officer.com. To continue viewing content on this site, please take a few moments to fill out the form below and register on this website.

    Registration is required to help ensure your access to featured content, and to maintain control of access to content that may be sensitive in nature to law enforcement.