Should officers be commended for high rates of DUI arrests?

Law enforcement ticket/citation/arrest quotas are prohibited in many jurisdictions across the United States and it doesn’t take much thought to understand why. Police officers should be issuing tickets, citations and making arrests based only on the violations and crimes they actually observe.

Quotas create a conflict of interest for officers. On one hand, they have a duty to protect the public without harassing law-abiding citizens. On the other hand, work-related bonuses and perhaps their very jobs are dependent on issuing a certain number of citations or making a certain number of arrests.

Recently, the national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving made an appearance at the Law Enforcement Appreciation Breakfast in Martinsburg. She was there to commend West Virginia State Troopers and other law enforcement officers who have made a high number of DUI arrests over the previous year. One state trooper stood out for making 58 DUI arrests. A sheriff’s deputy from one county made 85 arrests in the past year.

Honoring law enforcement officers for making a high number of drunk-driving arrests is obviously not the same thing as having a quota. In this case, officers would not likely be punished for too few arrests, and MADD is not directly affiliated with law enforcement.

But does this create a conflict of interest? Should we be encouraging officers to make as many arrests as possible? Instead, shouldn’t they be instructed to assess each traffic stop according to the evidence and to avoid being over-zealous?

A high number of arrests is not necessarily a sign of good law enforcement. There needs to be a balance between protecting public safety and preserving public freedoms.

Source:, MADD National President Awards Local Officers,” Nicole Neidenberg, Sept. 6, 2014

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