News 4 investigation of traffic ticket quotas prompts action by - KMOV.com

News 4 investigation of traffic ticket quotas prompts action by state senator

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By Adam McDonald By Adam McDonald

(KMOV.com) - Right after News 4’s investigation into a local police department’s monthly requirements for arrests and tickets aired, a local lawmaker was calling for an investigation.

“We all ought to be shocked by that and demand that something happen and that people be held accountable” said State Senator Eric Schmitt (R –St. Louis County).

The Investigation focused on the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department’s policy and its impact on police officers and the community.

As a Bellefontaine Neighbors cop for a decade, Joe St. Clair was ordered to carry out a policy that he says required cops to issue a certain number of traffic tickets, and even traffic arrests. If they failed to meet the quota, they could be fired.

St. Clair provided News 4 with copies of spreadsheets used by the Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Department to keep track of seven activities that include writing ordinance violations, traffic arrests, uniform traffic tickets, parking violations and traffic warnings.

St. Clair had to perform at least 50 of those actions every month. He was informed in writing that he faced "disciplinary action" because he had failed to meet the 50 minimum in September, 2013. He was told "you produced only 32 activities, which is less than 70 percent of your required minimum performance standard." If he continued to fail to meet those minimum standards for ticket writing, arrests and other so-called self-initiated activities, he should "expect to be replaced, disciplined, or terminated."

Schmitt says what concerned him the most was the reference to traffic arrests as part of the monthly mandated activities for Bellefontaine Neighbors police.

"After that story, I called for a state investigation with the attorney general to see if there's been any illegal activity as it relates to this," Schmitt said.

Off camera, Bellefontaine Neighbors Police Chief Robert Pruett insisted the policy is not a quota system. He said the mayor ordered him not to do an interview about it. He referred News 4 to Mayor Robert Doerr for more information.

When News 4 tried to interview the Doerr on-camera, he refused.

Off-camera, he claimed all those self-initiated activities made Bellefontaine Neighbors safer. Those self-initiated activities nearly tripled city revenue from tickets and fines, going from $373,000 to $1.1 million in just the last four years. 

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