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. Guest column: Julian Craft worked a lifetime to help those down and out in Brandon

    Columns

    Julian Craft died June 28. He was 84. In this memoriam, Brandon attorney B. Lee Elam, a friend and colleague, recalls Craft as a man with humble beginnings who spent much of his life offering a hand-up to individuals and groups across Brandon who desperately needed it. Craft's family asked that donations in his honor …

    JulianCraft knew how circumstances could put a family in dire straits so he  worked to help address the immediate needs of Brandonites before other aid kicked in. [ERNEST HOOPER   |   Times, 2005]
  2. Updates to Clearwater's development rules brings skeptical response to sea level rise from vice mayor

    Blogs

    During a discussion this week about updates to Clearwater's development rules dealing with sea level rise, Vice Mayor Hoyt Hamilton took a skeptical stance.

  3. Brandon motorcyclist dies after car turns into his path

    Accidents

    A motorcyclist died Thursday night after a car turned into his path on a Brandon road, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

  4. Photo of the Day for August 18, 2017 - A Window to Heaven

    Human Interest

    Today's Photo of the Day comes from Carlos Nieves of Tampa, FL. He calls it "A Window to Heaven."

  5. Tino Martinez thinks Derek Jeter has what it takes to run Marlins

    Blogs

    The sale of the Miami Marlins to Derek Jeter and his partners (a guy named Michael Jordan is also chipping in) awaits approval by Major League Baseball. But Jeter’s friend, former teammate  and fellow Tampa resident Tino Martinez never doubted Jeter would pull this off.

    Former New York Yankees player Derek Jeter waves to fans during a ceremony retiring his number at Yankee Stadium in New York. The Miami Marlins signed an agreement to sell the team to a group featuring Derek Jeter, a person familiar with the deal said Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017.