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ACLU sends warning to Rhode Island police chiefs after report on ticket quotas

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island sent a bulletin to all Rhode Island police chiefs on Monday, firmly reminding them that -thanks in large part to their activism- ticket quotas are illegal in the ocean state, and have been since 2010.

“The ACLU is also considering legal action on behalf of affected motorists,” ACLU-RI spokeswoman Nicole Cordier said in a new release.

The ACLU claims they stepped in with the statement after NBC10’s investigative reporters discovered an email from the Charlestown Police to their officers, encouraging four contacts during one’s shift, with at least one between 0500 and 0700 hours.

“TICKETS are encouraged,” the email read. “Do cross agency checks on motorists when available. If the driver has received several warnings from other agencies[,] maybe  it’s time for a ticket.”

“We don’t want another 19 warning driver running a red light,” the email continued.

Charlestown Police Chief Jeff Allen declined to do an on-camera interview with NBC10, but said his department does not have quotas, despite the email encouraging tickets and claiming warnings were not allowed. The Chief added that he was simply following RIDOT guidelines.

Gaby Abbate, chief of Highway Safety, told reporters that local departments would no longer be given the five stops per hour guideline when receiving federal grant funds.

“We never said that you can’t give out warnings or anything like that,” Abbate said. “We always support discretion. We are not law enforcement.”

However, the damage had already been done, as evidenced by Monday’s ACLU letter.

“A quota policy can only generate disrespect for, and cynicism about, law enforcement,” the letter says. “The implementation of traffic ticket quotas is problematic as a matter of policy, but even more so when it involves a police department itself violating the law.”


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