Traffic stop quota concerns in North Little Rock


NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — If you see those blue lights behind you, sometimes you know why, sometimes you don’t.

“It’s a big part of the job but there’s a lot more to it than that,” a retired North Little Rock Police officer said.

Traffic stops can often be a source of frustration for the driver, but this retired officer says, it’s a source of frustration for them too.

In 2018, staff notes show there were new guidelines asking for day and night shift officers to make 4 stops on average and midnight shift to make 3 stops.

“You better average your 4 stops a day or you can face some kind of punishment,” the officer said. He was still on the force when the instructions were issued.

He says he was threatened to have his shift and days off changed and lose his take home vehicle if he didn’t make more “quality” traffic stops. One staff note says one officer already had their take home vehicle taken away.

Arkansas code 12-6-303 states “No state or local agency… may use the number of arrests or citations issued by a law enforcement officer as the sole criterion for promotion, demotion, or dismissal, or the earning of any benefit provided by the agency.”

“You’re saying it’s all about stops, but I’m being punished, so no it’s not about stops, you’re wanting tickets and arrests to generate revenue,” the retired officer said.

Fast forward to June of 2019, new staff notes show Assistant Chief Roulston wants to see more non-moving citations and another look at traffic stops because they’re on the decline.

Documents provided by the department show officers averaged about 1 and a half stops a day over the most recent two months.

But this retired officer is hearing change is coming again.

“We’re back on it. Get your stops.”

And hopes this trend stops without the need for more blue lights.

Chief Mike Davis responded to our request for comment below.

Last year, I was contacted by members of the Fraternal Order of Police concerning a Staff Meeting that was held by Patrol Division Commander Tracy Roulston. The meeting was attended by the four area Patrol Lieutenants. I was already aware of confusion from that meeting. I had already spoken with Captain Roulston who was clear that no quota was issued and hopefully it wasn’t taken that way. I also spoke with numerous officers to make it clear that we have no quota, never have and never will. We do have expectations and I believe that was what the meeting was about. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t. We are expected to work traffic and enforce violations. We see them every day as each of our citizens do as well. Our role is to serve our citizens and also protect them. A big portion of what we do on a daily basis is work traffic. We make traffic stops, we issue citations, and we work motor vehicle accidents. Many within our community call and request patrols in their neighborhoods because of speeders, vehicle break in’s and suspicious individuals and they expect us to take action. Traffic stops are just a part of what we do and these stops sometimes lead to arrest, confiscation of illegal weapons, missing runaways and much more. We also patrol late night in our business districts and when we see suspicious vehicles or individuals we investigate further to determine if a crime has or was about to be committed. We attend crime watch meetings and respond to request from our citizens as well. Simply put we want our community to be as safe as possible. To accomplish this we work closely with our citizens and business owners. Once again, this meeting occurred last year and I have closely looked at our officer’s daily worksheets and monthly analysis of officer activities and I can assure you that no quota is in place and never will be.

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