New Lawsuit Alleges That Kansas City Police Department Set Illegal Ticket Quotas for Officers
"KCPD has continuously and repeatedly advised Plaintiff and his fellow officers that if they did not fulfill a 'ticket quota' then they would be kicked out of the unit," the complaint states.
A longtime veteran of the Kansas City, Missouri, police department has filed a lawsuit against the department, alleging that he was required to meet illegal "ticket quotas" or face demotion.
Edward Williams, who has worked at the Kansas City Police Department (KCPD) for over two decades, filed a lawsuit against the department last month. In his complaint, Williams alleges that the department set illegal "ticket quotas" for its officers and punished those who failed to meet the required number of traffic stops and tickets. Williams also alleges that several officers made racist comments and that Williams was punished for reporting these incidents.
The complaint states that in 2015, the KCPD began requiring each officer within the traffic unit "to issue 1,820 tickets by the end of the year." Further, if the officers "did not fulfill a 'ticket quota' then they would be kicked out of the unit and sent straight to 'dogwatch' which is an overnight shift viewed by many as undesirable and frequently worked by officers with low seniority."
This alleged practice directly subverts Missouri law. In 2016, the state passed a law banning law enforcement agencies from having any "policy requiring or encouraging an employee to issue a certain number of citations for traffic violations on a … quota basis."
According to the suit, Williams reported this conduct and was eventually informed that his "his complaint had been investigated and no violation was committed," even though he was "never interviewed concerning his allegations and, upon information and belief, no other individual was also ever interviewed in connection with such investigation." Williams' complaint also states that he faced retaliation, with the department "targeting him for discipline and misconduct, and arbitrarily denying his development opportunities despite his qualifications and excellent performance history" for his report.
In addition, the lawsuit alleges that department employees engaged in racially discriminatory conduct. One Captain "expressed his views that officers should only respond to calls in the white neighborhoods like north in Shoal Creek and out south because those are the folks who are actually paying for the police," the complaint alleges. Williams, who is white, "was also directed to by [sic] his superiors to target minority citizens and was constantly subjected to racially inflammatory rhetoric by his superior officers directed at African American and other citizens."
While the complaint does not allege that Williams was directed to target black drivers, data from the Missouri attorney general's office show that in 2021, while only 24 percent of white residents were stopped by police, 42 percent of black residents were.
The complaint argues that the department's conduct and policies violate the Missouri Human Rights Act due to the department's age, disability, and race–based discrimination faced by Williams in retaliation for his complaints.
"Our department is dedicated to policing that is both equitable and fair in all aspects of our duties. We do not direct enforcement activities based on demographics," the KCPD said in a statement. "I find these allegations very concerning and will immediately ensure the Traffic Division is reminded to operate and enforce laws appropriately."
The lawsuit is not the first allegation of racial discrimination faced by the department in recent years. In 2022, the Department of Justice launched an investigation into the KCPD's employment practices, following allegations of racial discrimination against black officers.