More Tickets = More Pizza = Controversy

Connecticut’s state police union is angry over a memo, obtained by News 8, that encourages troopers in the Bethany barracks going on a ticketing spree Friday to beat other barracks and win pizza.

The email, from Lt. Anthony Schirillo, challenges troopers to write 350 tickets or more during a 24 hour window starting at 12:01 a.m. Friday. The shift with the most tickets gets pizza, another message said.

“This is not a joke or a game,” State police spokesman Lt. J. Paul Vance said. “It’s a troop commanders’ attempt to stimulate his personnel to enhance highway safety and this goes on all across the state. You will see enhanced enforcement as we continue along in the spring months.”

“Troopers are expected to do their job,” union president Andrew Matthews said. “We will do our job, but we don’t need to be told we need a certain number of tickets within a specified period of time.”

The state police union calls it ticket blitzing — Connecticut trying to make money off of enforcement.

“And by definition under statute a quota is a specific number of infractions or summonses within a specified period of time and that is what the email said,” said Matthews.

Which is illegal under that statute. Lt. Vance says it’s not a quota. Rather, it’s a way to motivate troopers to enhance highway safety. He says it’s something state troopers do every Spring.

“Even last week we had a [Department of Transportation] worker killed on our highways just doing his job,” Vance said. “We had troopers down in Bridgeport make two stops of people going over 100 mph. Not only were they motor vehicle stops for speeding, but they resulted in a convicted felon with a gun and another individual with narcotics and narcotics money.”

Is the memo motivational or revenue?

“Whether it’s motivational or a quota, it’s disturbing to us because at a time when the taxpayers are out of work ’cause they’re unemployed, or gas is $4 a gallon and unemployment is like around 9%, now is not the time to be just issuing tickets to generate revenue,” Matthews said.

“This is not a quota. Troopers have discretion,” Vance said.

“There is nothing more difficult for a Connecticut state trooper than to stop a family — a husband, a wife, a couple of children in the back — for a motor vehicle violation, and hand that family a $275 ticket for violation of the rules of the road. But we look at that family and hope that we have saved a life.”