Wednesday’s ReasonTV video “Cop Fired for Speaking Out Against Ticket and Arrest Quotas” is making waves, with over 150,000 YouTube views in 24 hours and a top link on Drudge Report.
The piece features Justin Hanners, a former member of the Auburn, Alabama police department who refused to keep quiet about "contact" quotas that began after the arrival of Chief Tommy Dawson in 2010 (neither Hanners nor Dawson currently work for the police department).
In response to the video, one viewer made a Facebook group in support of Hanners. The group already has 6,000 members. Another viewer set up a fund for donations to help with ongoing legal proceedings. Hanners' email account has been flooded with support and offers to send groceries and job-placement services. Media outlets are swarming him for interviews and he reports he is happy for the aid and attention.
The police department declined my requests to talk during the making of the documentary. And now the city has now made a statement that there is not a quota system in Auburn:
Chief Register, as well as former Chief Dawson, have made it clear that they do not require quotas in the Auburn Police Division. If any Auburn Police officer is unclear on the expectations of the Chief or his supervisor, Chief Register, Public Safety Director Bill James and I all have open door policies and will be happy to hear their concerns and make our expectations clear.
Hanners kept copies all of his correspondence throughout his grievance process, including a response from the Public Safety Director Bill James specifically addressing Hanners' discomfort with the quotas. James said:
To make 100 contacts, which include among others, traffic stops, issuing warrants, field interviews and arrests, requires about two contacts per shift hour. Making two contacts per hour is not unreasonable and still seems to leave a lot of time to perform other duties that are detailed in your job description. Your supervisors as well as I have an expectation that each employee needs to be productive during their time on shift.
This production is measured using different matrix’s, including numbers. This is not any different than quantifying miles of streets paved or number of fire hydrants painted.
I asked Hanners to respond to this claim.
"Streets and fire hydrants don’t have Constitutional rights. They don’t pay taxes. They don’t vote. We’re supposed to protect and serve the citizens,” Hanners said, “They’re not to be looked at as inanimate objects that we have to keep rank and file like our streets being neat and our fire hydrants being painted.”
The city's statement also says that Hanners' claim that he was fired for violating a gag order is unsubstantiated. But they "cannot comment in detail on the specific basis for the termination." Hanners walked me through his grievance process and the internal affairs investigation:
"Well, the day my grievance was over, I get called into the Chief’s office, and was told that some evidence I presented was from an internal affairs investigation and the gag order had been placed and I wasn’t supposed to have it. So then the Chief, who is the suspect in my grievance, now starts an internal affairs investigation into me and my partner to see if we somehow compromised his own investigation into his own wrongdoing where he had found he had done nothing wrong. So in this investigation, they found that we had violated a gag order and that I had violated the city’s reporting policy by reporting these people. And they ultimately fired me for it and suspended my partner who gave me a statement that said everything I was saying was true."
Auburn Assistant City Manager James Buston is also saying that Reason did not do our journalistic duty:
“They did not even offer us the opportunity to respond before they put it together. It’s a pretty shoddy news organization, I would say.”
Actually, I have an email response from the police department, with the public safety director copied, declining my interview request.
Here's the video, "Cop Fired for Speaking Out Against Ticket and Arrest Quotas":
Update: Assistant City Manager Buston was unaware of my email exchange with the Auburn Police Department and graciously apologized for his statement upon learning about it.