A traffic stop in a case in which a judge declared that Howard County Police used illegal quotas in issuing DUIs was justified and based on probable cause, Police Chief William McMahon said.
“I’m surprised and disappointed and I think it’s a bad ruling,” he told Patch Friday afternoon.
A Howard County judge Thursday threw out a citation given to Katie Quackenbush, 22, of Ellicott City, saying that it was linked to an illegal quota system. The action came after a prosecutor presented an internal police email that he said indicated police had quotas for 2 - 4 DUIs to issue per hour to meet grant money requirements, the Baltimore Sun reported.
McMahon said Quackenbush was pulled over in April after an officer observed her driving 38 mph on Main Street, where the speed limit is 25 mph. She failed a sobriety test after conceding she had been drinking, McMahon said, and had a blood alcohol level of more than twice the legal limit.
McMahon said the wording in the email presented in court was taken from language in the grant, which mandated a certain numbers of citations. "Grants have to expect we use the money wisely," McMahon said. Quantifying citations is one way to determine whether or not the money is being effective.
Funding for special supplemental DUI details, he said, would not be disrupted if those numbers were not met.
Quackenbush’s attorney, Mark Muffoletto, told the Sun the language represented the use of quotas -- that is, a requirement that officers write a certain number of citations in a certain time period.
"Just because they were caught … doesn't change the fact that it was a quota," Muffoletto was quoted as saying.
The email, McMahon said, was not an official communication. “It was sent from one employee” to a limited number of officers involved in the detail, he said.
McMahon said he knew the wording of the email, which was sent in January, might be misconstrued. The department stopped using that language in May, he said. Quackenbush was arrested in April of 2011.
“We do not use quotas,” McMahon said, “One, because they’re illegal … and two because they’re not good management policy.”
He said quotas were unnecessary. The officers assigned to supplemental DUI patrols “sign up because they’re passionate about the work.”