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. Observations from a liberal, gay, Latino, feminist Florida House freshman

    Blogs

    State Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando,  rocked the Florida LGBTA Democratic Caucus dinner at Tallahassee's Hotel Duval Satursday night with his unabashedly liberal and passionate take on the myriad issues he said are key to LGBTQ Floridians. Among them: Access to guns, Reproductive rights, home …

    Carlos G. Smith
  2. Delta Sigma Theta honors outgoing national president

    Human Interest

    During her four years as national president of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Paulette Walker said she always focused on the comma between "Sorority" and "Inc."

    Paulette Walker, the former director of undergraduate programs and internship in the College of Education at the University of South Florida, will be honored on Saturday for her leadership in the Delta Sigma Theta sorority.
  3. 10 sailors missing, 5 hurt in collision of USS John S. McCain

    SEOUL —Ten U.S. Navy sailors are missing and five have been injured after the USS John S. McCain destroyer collided with an oil tanker near Singapore early Monday morning.

    In this Jan. 22, 2017, photo provided by U.S. Navy, the USS John S. McCain patrols in the South China Sea while supporting security efforts in the region. The guided-missile destroyer collided with a merchant ship on Monday, Aug. 21, in waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing, and five were injured, the Navy said. [James Vazquez/U.S. Navy via AP]
  4. Pasco County Fire Rescue fighting a two-alarm fire started by an explosion

    Fire

    Two houses are on fire and one victim has been critically burned and taken to a trauma center following an explosion at a home at 8652 Velvet Dr, in Port Richey.

  5. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.