Were Chicago cops instructed to write more tickets?
That's what the The Chicago Sun-Times asserts. The number of tickets written by Chicao police are down this year.
In July 2009 officers issued 850,000 tickets compared to only 642,000 this July, reports the Sun-Times.
Last month officers handed out the most tickets, 6,709, in the Near North District. They gave out the least, 1,030 in the Wentworth District east of Sox Park on the South Side.
That's apparently not good enough.
The newspaper obtained a memo from City Hall which warned police officials the city would “witness a dramatic decrease in annual revenues and not meet 2010 targets” if the drop in writing parking and vehicle-compliance tickets continues for the rest of the year.
While the memo from August 10th doesn’t specifically tell police officers to step up ticket writing, it does let district commanders and other supervisors know that since July of last year, ticket writing decreased by 25 percent. It also lists districts where ticketing has occurred the most and districts where ticketing is the lowest.
The Fraternal Order of Police is not pleased with the contents of the memo. President Mark Donahue told the Sun-Times the memo is a “troubling warning that smacks of ticketing quotas. It sends the wrong message to the public as to what the real responsibilities of police officers are.”
Ed Walsh, spokesman for the City’s Revenue Department told the Sun-Times his department does not determine the duties of police officers and that in 2009 the Police Department asked the Revenue Department for weekly reports about tickets and other data.
According to a top police official who spoke to the Sun-Times anonymously, the department doesn’t ask officers to issues tickets to generate revenue, nor have district lieutenants and sergeants been given instructions to boost ticket writing.
Police officers aren’t the only city employees issuing parking tickets, Aides that work for the Revenue Department also write tickets.
The city’s parking meter contractor, Chicago Parking Meters LLC, also has it’s own private contingent of ticket writers employed by the firm Serco Inc. Those private employees have stepped up it’s ticket writing, issuing 1345 tickets from June 23 to July 14.
The Revenue Department’s memo comes while the city is trying to close a $654.7 million dollar budget gap.