The local media's non-coverage of the event described in Saturday's Weber County Forum lead article, in which the Mayor of Ogden City followed individual citizens with, one must assume, negative intentions, given the subsequent administrative leave inflicted on one of them, is a glaring example of how the news media has deteriorated. Thank heavens for Fox News, but that was one story one time, and what do we see on the front page of our local paper yesterday?
A story about two Ogden City Council members having a meeting about The Gondola. To me, today, The Gondola is not important. We discuss frequently the dichotomy between projects and infrastructure, and we are currently under a system where the human infrastructure of this city, our public safety personnel, is in trouble. And no media but this blog and Fox News is saying anything about it.
Do we or do we not have freedom of speech in this country? Do we or do we not have a free press? Do we all care, or don't we, about the possible misuse of governmental powers within our government's own organizations?
The officer now on administrative leave worked under a quota system. It may come as a surprise to some in Utah, but many states have laws prohibiting a quota system in law enforcement. It is viewed, and rightly, not as a motivation to improve performance, but as a motivation to view citizens as a money making opportunity. Someone said that it was like the city administration "putting a price on everyone's head," and that, to me, is pretty accurate.
Here in Ogden, the quota system is not some clandestine operation known only to law enforcement, as it is in some places. Rather, this quota system is written down and is a part of the merit pay system. In order to get a 5% merit raise, officers must score a 4 or higher on this scale. It's right out there, in writing, and here's part of it:
Traffic Officer:I have copied the above from the Performance Evaluation Standards (PEP) for Traffic Officers. There are other standards for Patrol Officers, Master Officers, etc. They all involve quotas.
DUI arrests when assigned as a DUI car or afternoon traffic car.
1. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages less than 1 DUI arrest per week.
2. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages less than 2, but more than 1 DUI arrests per week. (?????)
3. Averages 2 DUI arrest per assigned week: OR not assigned to afternoon Traffic/DUI car coverage.
4. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages 3 DUI arrests per week.
5. Assigned to DUI coverage and averages more than 4 DUI arrests per week.
Number of traffic citations, hazardous and non-hazardous, issued per working day.
Level Description Value=20
1. Averages less than 3 non-parking citations per day.
2. Averages less than 4 non-parking citations per day.
3. Averages 4 non-parking citations per day, with 3 of the 4 being hazardous citations.
4. Averages 6 citations per day, with 4 of the 6 being hazardous citations.
5. Averages more than 8 citations per day, with 6 of the 8 being hazardous citations.
(Above question marks mine.)
Is it a bit clearer now why this quota system being tied to merit raises is not a good thing? Traffic officers are required by the new merit pay system to view all of us as a means to a bigger paycheck. They will not get that 5% merit raise unless they average more than 3 DUI arrests per week, and 6 citations per day, with 4 of the 6 being hazardous citations.
There are 13 traffic officers who do nothing but traffic. But the paychecks of patrol officers and master officers are tied to the quota system also.
The truck pictured at the beginning of Rudi's Saturday article is part of an effort by the Police Benefit Association to protest this quota system being tied to their paychecks. The wife of the officer currently on administrative leave allegedly was seen driving the truck by Mayor Godfrey. The administrative leave happened roughly two hours after this alleged sighting.
I think it's awesome that the police themselves are protesting this quota system being tied to their paychecks, and that it's baffling that the Ogden City Council is allowing it to continue, and most importantly, that perhaps officers who are speaking out against it on their off duty time are being penalized. If pressure is being brought to bear on those officers who are speaking out against this system, I don't think it wise or honorable that the rest of us just shrug that off and let it happen, and allow it to die a small and quiet death, unnoticed by everyone.
Post on this blog. Email WCF articles on this topic to your friends, by clicking the email icon at the foot of each article. If Weber County Forum is the only medium paying attention to this, let's just keep on doing that.
Update 7/31/06 7:05 a.m. MT: Having been "scooped" again by other local media, the Official Boss Godfrey Propaganda Organ finally (and belatedly) addresses the events reported in Saturday's WCF story in a short front-page article, apparently cobbled together last evening by reporter Janae Francis. "I am not involved in any way, shape or form with this investigation," utters Boss Godfrey... in mid-stutter.