Ask a Trooper: Do Officers Have a Ticket Quota?

Washington State Patrol District 1 spokesman and recruiter Guy Gill answers your questions about the rules of the road.

Q: Is there such a thing as a ticket quota in the Washington State Patrol?

A: The answer is no. This is our job and it’s no different than any other – WSP officers work for a day’s pay. We don’t always write tickets and we give lots of verbal warnings. If an officer does give a verbal warning, it is documented. Every officer has discretion.

Not everyone is going to get a ticket. Our goal is to educate the public and sometimes our presence is enough to change someone’s behavior.

All of our data is tracked, with audio and visual recording. Every stop we make, we track in a document. We record the time, location, offense and whatever the outcome is. 


Trooper Guy Gill is the Washington State Patrol recruiter and spokesman for District 1, covering Pierce and Thurston counties. Follow him at @wspd1pio on Twitter. 

What have you always wanted to ask a state patrol officer? Tell us in the comments.

Harjit Singh February 11, 2013 at 06:44 PM
How much law do they know and if they have to check just to be sure in unique situations, do they ask around or check the book of law?
Martin Felix February 11, 2013 at 06:50 PM
and I suppose a trooper will NOT be called in to his supervisor if he writes no tickets, or fewer than the norm? There IS a quota.... What I like is getting a ticket for going the speeds WSP routinely travels at.
Brad H. February 11, 2013 at 09:09 PM
True story: my wife was waiting in line at a drive-through for a coffee shop here in Edmonds and, while her car sat idling, took off her seat belt to reach for her purse in the back seat, at which point an Edmonds PO walked up to her window and wrote her a "no seat belt" ticket. So yeah, I don't buy the whole "no quota" thing either.
Joe M February 11, 2013 at 09:48 PM
If it's not too late, contest the ticket. RCW 46.61.005 states that the majority of rules of the road apply only to highways.
Bob Roberts February 11, 2013 at 10:33 PM
Completely ducked the question. Its their job to write tickets and they better do it. Unfortunately we have a system in place were they write tickets just to cover the cost of having them on the job to write tickets. I think we as citizens get confused because we expect something like "to serve and protect" but what we have is a tax system that keeps a few more people employed.
RockBerry February 11, 2013 at 10:55 PM
I drive for one of those big package delivery companies and I can tell you there is someone breaking a law on every road and highway at all times of the day. The police really don't need a quota when at every turn there is someone willing to pay the 'voluntary' tax.
Ernie Stoddard February 11, 2013 at 11:24 PM
You are right, they don't have a ticket quota. What they have is a contact with persons quota. You are required to have some percent of contact with the public. This is part of your Evaluation Process. So just change ticket quota to Public Contact.
Julie Valvano February 12, 2013 at 05:30 PM
I have never received a warning of the times I have been pulled over, even going just 5 miles over the limit in a non-residential sparsly populated area, the exception is the one Sammamish officer who took pity on me when I was driving after my purse was just stolen. The timing of my tickets seem suspicious but I agree with Ernie 100%
Generation Xcellent February 12, 2013 at 05:37 PM
Conspiracy theorists love to jump to the quota conclusion. There are no quotas, ticket, public contact, or otherwise. What there is is a culture of merit and competition, just like in the corporate world. Most people want to achieve, get ahead, get promoted, etc. You do that by working harder than your peers.
Susan Milke February 12, 2013 at 06:52 PM
No quota, really?! Then why every Saturday morning around 7 am does the WSP sit on 405 North in Kirkland at 85th with sometimes up to 5 patrol cars (they look like a taxi service), just waiting for someone coming up the hill to speed. This particular spot lends itself to you going 70 without even realizing it due to a plateau in the road.
Jeanne Gustafson February 12, 2013 at 07:28 PM
Maybe the next question should deal with "speed traps?"
Susan Milke February 12, 2013 at 08:05 PM
Oh yes, speed traps. Are they trying to make driving safer at 7am Sat morning or catch unsuspecting people going a little fast to make money? You decide.
Dane Ferrell February 13, 2013 at 01:04 AM
Their answer is a lie, there is a reason they are giving people tickets for so much as scratching their butt the wrong way the last several days of any given month, there are people pulled over on every corner,remember if you lie to them you can be charged with giving false information to a police officer, but they can lie all they want.
northernlights February 13, 2013 at 01:34 AM
do speed traps slow traffic down? yes they do and that is all that matters. obey the speed limit and you have no worries. it's easy, just do it!
northernlights February 13, 2013 at 01:38 AM
get jessie, king 5 news!!!
Susan Milke February 13, 2013 at 03:36 AM
The speed traps don't need to slow people down. The traffic is flowing fine especially at 7am on a Saturday morning. If they need to slow traffic down then why aren't they there all the time protecting us? Because it is a perfect time to catch unsuspecting people just going about their business. And I have noticed over the last few months they aren't in that spot as often. Most likely because everyone now knows that is where they hang out to give out tickets at that particular time. Oh and guess what right after you pass them everyone speeds up!!
AC February 13, 2013 at 08:11 AM
Remember, Trooper Guy Gill only speaks for the Washington State Patrol. Edmonds police officers may have a ticket quota. Definitely contest the ticket. If nothing else, at least the fine should be reduced.
Ernie Stoddard February 13, 2013 at 11:45 AM
If the cops wanted you to slow down, they should be out on the road driving with the traffic. We all know that they are just revenue collectors for the city, county and state. Just keep writing the tickets, and collecting that fine money. If they start running low on money. They will just start increasing the fine amounts.. You are going to pay, one way or the other.
Susan Milke February 13, 2013 at 06:22 PM
Ernie, You are absolutely correct. If it was about our "safety" they would be driving with us slowing us down. "To serve and protect" probably isn't on the sides of their cars anymore.
EvergreenHillbilly February 14, 2013 at 01:36 AM
I used rant about their duck pond on northbound 405 at 80th. But it would be hard to find a place that would yield as many speeders and allow such great visibiltiy for would-be speeders. No local creatures are harmed in the making of this weekly production, because traffic is light enough to accommodate the rubbernecking, and because we all know not to speed there.
Angela McBrayer February 14, 2013 at 08:00 PM
A quota for "social contact"? I dare you to email one and find out if there is any quota for "social contact"...you will find yourself without any word.
Kirkland Tony February 14, 2013 at 08:23 PM
Mostly what this tells us is that the Patch editors are not journalists or investigative reporters, more inclined to defer to government than to challenge it. If you look at the original thread of "What Have You Always Wanted to Know About the Washington State Patrol?", also written by Lauren, from 06 October, suggestions were made that the quota question was incredibly naive and plays right into the WSP lie-book. Why did the Patch editors ignore that input and ask the question in the weakest and most impotent way possible? Lauren, can a trooper's supervisors see their ticket or revenue production record at performance review time? Why do they hang out on 405 at 7am Sunday, when there are no accidents historically and therefore no safety benefit, while ignoring the plethora of gravel trucks spewing projectiles that are larger than bullets at vehicles on the freeway during the week? How do you respond to the fact that Assistant State Patrol Chief Brian Ursino told KING-TV, "We did ask our troopers to be a little less tolerant. There isn't any quotas but there is accountability." Or that iIn 2002, a public records request by the Washington Seatbelt Coalition uncovered a confidential "Traffic Safety Blitz" memo urging a specific number of tickets issued each hour? This "article" should be an embarrassment for Patch and for Lauren.
Mike Lewis (Editor) February 15, 2013 at 02:20 AM
@Kirkland Tony: Maybe the premise of the "Ask a Trooper" isn't clear for you, so let me pitch in and help. The Questions come from Patch readers. The Answers come from the "expert." In this case -- and I say "this case" as we have run other features in a Q&A format -- the expert is a state trooper. It's natural to disagree with an assertion and clearly you believe (as do others) that a ticket quota exists. But the rationale behind a Q&A (as is the case with thousands of Q&As published across hundreds of websites annually) is to provide a direct path from reader to source without the reporter's interpretation or filter. Reporter Lauren Padgett did exactly what she is supposed to with this kind of feature: She stayed out of the way and let the dialogue happen between the reader and the trooper. And the comments section (which you just used) is where readers both contribute and judge the veracity of the answers (which, in part, you just did as well). I'm sorry that the format left you befuddled at the distinction between a standard news story and a reader-generated Q&A. But rest assured, we'll be here to walk you (or anyone else) through if it confuses or angers you again. Thanks for your comment. Mike Lewis, Regional Editor, Patch.com
Kirkland Tony February 15, 2013 at 05:02 AM
@Mike, while I appreciate your dismissive sarcasm, the phrasing of the question chosen could not have been more of a softball lob. If you look at the October thread, you would be hard pressed to justify asking it precisely that way despite one reader having phrased it as such. That is the only point I was "befuddled" by... that it was the discredited phrasing to enable propaganda (i.e. of course they say "no", but is it in action rather than in name?) rather than at least making even a cursory effort to ask a real question. So while I am appreciative of your offer to help walk me through that, be assured that I am here to help should you ever decide to try to phrase questions in ways that might provide insight rather than merely sound-bite opportunities. At your service should you realize you need it, Kirkland Tony


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