Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida highway chief: There is no FHP speeding ticket quota

Terry Rhodes, executive director of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, dismissed a directive given by a commander of FHP's north Florida operation that set goals for speeding tickets. "Quotas have no place within the Florida Highway Patrol," Rhodes said in a memo to FHP's top brass late Thursday. [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles]

Terry Rhodes, executive director of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, dismissed a directive given by a commander of FHP's north Florida operation that set goals for speeding tickets. "Quotas have no place within the Florida Highway Patrol," Rhodes said in a memo to FHP's top brass late Thursday. [Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles]

TALLAHASSEE — Moving swiftly to tamp down a growing furor in the media and with the motoring public, state highway safety chief Terry Rhodes issued a memorandum late Thursday night to the top brass at the Florida Highway Patrol.

Her message was blunt and unambiguous: "Quotas have no place within the Florida Highway Patrol."

Rhodes responded to the Times/Herald's coverage of an internal email coverage of an internal email that FHP Maj. Mark Welch sent to troopers in an eight-county region around Tallahassee, telling them that now that they have received a 5 percent raise, they need to write two tickets an hour while on an overtime traffic enforcement program. The troopers who got the order are in charge of patrolling a nearly 100-mile stretch of Interstate 10 from Madison County west to Gadsden County — a haven for speeders.

Welch's July 28 memo created much social media chatter, led some local TV newscasts and prompted a warning from a key legislator, Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg, that ticket quotas are illegal under state law. Sen. Jeff Clemens, D-Lake Worth, wrote a letter to the Department of Highway Safety that also called Welch's directive to troopers illegal.

"The email from Maj. Welch disturbingly equates increased citations as 'the only way to alter that behavior,' which is patently false," Clemens wrote Thursday. "I would appreciate a clarification on these issues, a public repudiation of the memo on your part, and an affirmation that the Florida Highway Patrol's goal is to encourage the safe flow of traffic, rather than generate citations that statistically have little effect on behavior."

"By now," Rhodes wrote, "I know you will have seen the media stories and press statements that have been released regarding an email asking that two citations be written every hour while troopers work overtime enforcement duty. Let me be very clear: Quotas have no place within the Florida Highway Patrol.

"Getting in the black and tan to patrol the roadways is expected. Helping to educate and assist motorists is expected. Protecting lives is expected. Quotas are not part of our mission operationally or legally," Rhodes wrote. "It is more important than ever before that FHP be proactive in their efforts, but members should never be encouraged to meet specific citation numbers. I am directing you to ensure that no quotas are being issued from our troops and that no performance metrics are impacted by a quota."

Rhodes reports to Gov. Rick Scott and the three elected Cabinet members, who want no part of a controversy involving allegations of ticket quotas. By coincidence, Rhodes is slated to appear before the four officials next Wednesday at a Cabinet meeting in Tallahassee to make a pitch for a 10 percent pay raise for state troopers in next year's budget.

Contact Steve Bousquet at sbousquet@tampabay.com. Follow @stevebousquet.

Florida highway chief: There is no FHP speeding ticket quota 08/11/17 [Last modified: Friday, August 11, 2017 2:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears

    World

    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'

    War

    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]