TUPELO • A local lawmaker has filed a bill in the Mississippi House of Representatives that would make it illegal for law enforcement agencies to adopt an arrest quota system.
State Rep. Rickey Thompson, a Democrat from Tupelo, filed House Bill 64 in the Legislature recently, and the bill prohibits all local and state law enforcement agencies from employing a practice of making law enforcement officers write a certain number of citations within a given period of time.
“No state or local agency employing peace officers or parking enforcement employees … shall use the number of arrests or citations issued by a peace officer or parking enforcement employee as the sole criterion for promotion, demotion, dismissal, or the earning of any benefit provided by the agency,” the bill reads.
According to the bill, if an officer or a police department is caught using an arrest quota system or using it as the sole means of promoting officers, law enforcement agencies will face a penalty of $10,000.
Thompson said the bill stems from concerns that a number of his constituents in different communities raised to him and to “have a law on the books that would address these concerns.”
This bill comes at a time when the city of Tupelo has faced several discrimination lawsuits that allege some officers within the Tupelo Police Department encourage a ticket quota system. City officials have denied these allegations and have settled the suits on confidential terms.
Thompson said this bill is not a response to any of the lawsuits, and the bill is simply a response to concerns he heard from several citizens in his legislative district.
“What we’re trying to do is just having more transparency for the community,” Thompson said. “It’s more of just being fair to the community.”
However, Jennifer Baker, a former Tupelo Police Department officer who has sued the city and alleged the police department practiced a quota system, provided a lot of input on the bill.
“I drafted that bill at the beginning of January,” Baker told the Daily Journal. (Thompson) had policy lawyers in Jackson look over it.”
Thompson said Baker was one of several constituents he heard from about this issue and that policy lawyers in the Capitol did review the draft Baker submitted.
“She was concerned, and had some issues about some laws that weren’t on the book,” Thompson said of Baker.
The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary B Committee, where state Rep. Nick Bain, a Republican from Corinth, leads the committee.
Thompson said he has not yet had a conversation with Bain about the bill, but does plan to sit down with Bain to see if the bill can be passed in the committee.
According to the current legislative calendar, lawmakers have until March 10 to report all bills out of committees.