Do Police Officers Have a Quota of Tickets?

Do police officers have a quota of tickets? Simon Says: Sort of…

In Ontario you’re not going to find a police service that gives its’ officers a quota of tickets to write each month – at least not on paper. In principle, services don’t give their officers quotas because of the possibility that it could lead to officers writing bogus or cheesy tickets near the end of the month to meet their quota so they don’t get in trouble.

That being said, you’re not going to find a police service in Ontario that doesn’t expect its’ officers to write a certain amount of tickets each month. They may not put it on paper and they may not tell officers directly to go out and write ‘x’ number of tickets, but rest assured, the expectation is there. A common expectation for patrol officers may be something like 20 tickets per month, in addition to all of their criminal charges and calls for service. For traffic enforcement officers it might be something like 200 per month and for collision investigation officers perhaps 150 per month.

The way the police managers are able to deny that officers have a quotas is by saying that officers just have to “justify their time” (and rightly so to a certain extent, since there needs to be accountability for police officers as much as for people in any other profession).  So it’s not that officers have to write a certain number of tickets, as long as they’ve been doing something else to justify their time, for example dealing with a high volume of calls or criminal charges.

Still, it seems to me like the police service gets to have it’s cake and eat it too in this situation.  They can truthfully tell the public that their officers do not have a quota of tickets, but, at least in my personal experience, there is enough unofficial pressure to actively write a certain number of tickets every month that officers may feel compelled to do so.  If they don’t they may find their opportunities within the service limited.  Unfortunately, this policy, to the extent that it exists from service to service, doesn’t benefit the public or police officers.


About the author: Simon Borys is a former police officer who is currently studying law at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario to become a criminal lawyer.