A new law signed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin will prevent police departments from enacting arrest quotas, which one sponsor believes will ensure police arrest people for the right reasons.
House Bill 750 and Senate Bill 327, both signed by the governor, will prohibit police departments from establishing formal arrest quotas or maintaining informal arrest quotas. Such quotas would encourage police officers to secure a certain number of arrests in a given timeframe.
“This was an effort by numerous groups and people [who] said you shouldn’t have … a formal or informal quota,” Del. Robert Bell, R-Albemarle County, who sponsored the House version of the bill, told The Center Square.
Bell said these decisions should be based on what is best for safety. He said police should not be forced to arrest people for other reasons. The legislation received unanimous bipartisan support in both chambers of the General Assembly.
The new law did not face much opposition from policing groups, either. Dana Schrad, the executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police and Foundation, told The Center Square arrest quotas are not widely practiced in the commonwealth and are not considered a best practice in policing.
“The number of tickets written or arrests made by officers also is not a sole criterion in officer evaluation,” Schrad said. “However, when there is a dramatic increase or decrease in tickets or arrests, it is proper to examine such trends to explain why there has been a change in the officer’s activity. And, crime mapping looks at arrests made and tickets issued across a locality to determine if crime rates are increasing or decreasing in certain areas.”
Schrad said ticket and arrest data from agencies is required for some grants, but that is not indicative of arrest quotas.
The legislation states that nothing in the law will prevent the Department of State Police from collecting, analyzing and utilizing information concerning the number of arrests or summons, as long as the purpose is not for quotas.
However, the legislation would not necessarily prohibit ticket quotas because it only affects arrests and summons. Some lawmakers have considered passing a comprehensive ban on ticket quotas.