The officer, a 21-year veteran of the Kansas City Police Department, claims that a captain instructed him to meet performance metrics by pulling over more “minority” motorists.
A Kansas City police officer has filed a lawsuit alleging that he was instructed to pull over non-White motorists to meet ticket quotas—quotas that are broadly illegal under Missouri state law.
According to The Kansas City Star, the complaint was filed on behalf of Officer Edward Williams in Jackson County Circuit Court on Monday.
In his lawsuit, Williams alleges that the department is violating state law by encouraging its officers to meet measurable quotas.
Williams claims that Kansas City officers are assessed by measured performance.
When assessing officers’ performance, the department purportedly considers their citation rates, with more traffic stops and more issued tickets lending to better evaluations.
“Officers have received unsatisfactory marks on their evaluations and had duties and benefits stripped for low ticket writing numbers. This continues to this date,” the lawsuit claims.
Attorneys for Williams say that the officer was punished when he raised concerns about the legality of ticket quotas, as well as the department’s potentially “racially discriminatory” policing practices in predominately Black neighborhoods.
The Kansas City Star notes that Williams, a 21-year veteran of the city’s police force, complained to the department’s human resources division about a supervisor’s order “to go to minority neighborhoods to write tickets because of the belief that it would be easier to write multiple citations for every stop.”
Williams also alleges that a Kansas City Police Department official told officers that they should only respond to calls originating from predominately White neighborhoods like Shoal Creek.
“Those are the folks who are actually paying for the police,” the captain purportedly said.
The same captain added that officers should broadly ignore calls “in minority filled areas north of Bannister, west of 435, south of the river, because those people do not vote the same way as the people out south, east, and north.”
The lawsuit, adds the Star, was filed several months after the federal Department of Justice concluded an investigation into alleged discriminatory policing practices.
Stacey Graves, the chief of the Kansas City Police Department, has since issued a statement maintaining that it neither enforces ticket quotas nor targets minority residents.
“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. We do direct traffic enforcement in high crash locations as well as citizen traffic complaint locations,” Graves said. “I find these allegations very concerning and will immediately ensure the Traffic Division is reminded to operate and enforce laws appropriately.”
Williams has asked the court for a jury trial and is requesting compensation for actual damages, non-economic damages, reimbursement of legal costs and fees, front pay, and other damages.