JACKSON • Law enforcement traffic ticket quotas would be illegal in Mississippi under a bill authored by a Northeast Mississippi legislature that passed the state House of Representatives Wednesday morning.
House Bill 883, sponsored by first-term Rep. Rickey Thompson, D-Shannon, would prohibit any state or local law enforcement agent from requiring officers to make a specified number of arrests or tickets within a given time frame.
“It protects the officer and it also protects the citizens to make sure they have a fair shake,” Thompson said.
The bill passed with overwhelming support: 117-1.
The legislation would also prevent law enforcement agencies from using arrest or citation statistics as the “as the sole criterion for promotion, demotion, dismissal, or the earning of any benefit provided by the agency.”
Thompson’s legislation does not levy any penalties for agencies that violate the law, an issue that was raised during discussion on the House floor Wednesday.
“Right now, we’re doing something to make sure we have something in place for the officer,” Thompson said. “We can come back and add more teeth into it if we need it.”
The Tupelo Police Department – located in part in Thompson’s district – has faced lawsuits by former officer over allegations of ticket quotas maintained by some top-ranking figures in the department.
Police Chief Bart Aguirre has consistently denied any quota policy, and some allegations centered on allegations of informal pressures rather than explicit policies.
Other than commendation bills, this is the first piece of legislation authored by Thompson to clear the House. He introduced a ban on ticket quotas in last year's legislative session, but the bill died in committee.