LA Officers Awarded Millions in Traffic Ticket Scandal
April 13, 2011
LOS ANGELES – Two police officers who claimed they faced retaliation for complaining about an alleged quota system for traffic tickets have been awarded more than $2 million.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury on Monday agreed that the city should pay $1.12 million to retired officer Howard Chan and $950,000 to David Benioff, who’s still on the force.
Both sued the Police Department in 2009 alleging that their captain at the city’s Westside traffic division required each motorcycle officer to write 18 tickets per shift for speeding, running red lights and other offenses that could each generate several hundred dollars for the city.
Chan claimed that after he complained about being criticized for not writing enough tickets, he was reassigned to patrol a high-crime area. Benioff alleged that after refusing to honor the quota, he was assigned to work a late shift.
During trial, Chan and Benioff testified that they were assigned to specific streets rather than regular traffic patrols to increase their ticket output.
“Quotas are a direct violation of the vehicle code and this case was about these officers being asked to break the law,” Benioff’s attorney, Gregory Smith, told the Los Angeles Times.
During trial, attorneys for the city denied that any ticket quota existed and argued that the department had broad goals for reducing injuries and fatalities on the road.
A spokesman for the city attorney’s office said the department was reviewing the jury’s decision and weighing its options.