A significant drop in the number of traffic citations issued by Reynoldsburg police prompted Sgt. Steve Baughn to tell officers by e-mail last week they need to issue 18 tickets by the end of the month or they will "receive 90-day evaluation letters in addition to letters of counseling to start with."

A significant drop in the number of traffic citations issued by Reynoldsburg police prompted Sgt. Steve Baughn to tell officers by e-mail last week they need to issue 18 tickets by the end of the month or they will "receive 90-day evaluation letters in addition to letters of counseling to start with."

Police Chief David Suciu and Mayor Brad McCloud said Monday there are no set quotas, although there are performance standards each officer needs to meet --including traffic enforcement.

Suciu said the message Baughn was conveying in his e-mail was not for officers to meet quotas but to keep their eyes open more for traffic violations. He said traffic enforcement will always be a high-priority goal for the patrol division.

"He was trying to make a point that this is just not going to get it and if you're not going to go out there and enforce the traffic laws I mean, by far, traffic issues are the No. 1 complaints that we have to deal with," Suciu said.

"That's why we make it a priority goal for our patrol division and set those priorities for those officers," he said. "The numbers speak for themselves. That is what we use for their performance evaluations and we want to keep everyone somewhat around the average of what everybody else is doing."

In the March 12 e-mail, Baughn said the average number of tickets issued in January and February had dropped dramatically "without any tangible explanation" compared to 2008 -- five in January this year compared to 17 a year ago, and 6 in February compared to 12 last year.

"The current averages reflect approximately one ticket per week which will in no way cut it," he wrote. "Beginning with this month, officers will be expected to attain at least last year's levels of enforcement unless there are mitigating circumstances. In other words if you only have three or four officer-initiated cites this month, you will need to get to 18.1 by the end of the month."

Mayor Brad McCloud said the difference between a goal and a quota is that a goal is more "aspirational" while a quota is a mandate.

"We don't specify X number of citations and obviously, contacts with the public and a whole host of things are part of a performance evaluation," McCloud said. "We will not have an official quota in place so if an officer doesn't write 18.1 tickets, he will not be disciplined.

"We've been doing this a long time, writing citations, and this seems to be a wild deviation from the past without an explanation," he said.

According to Fraternal Order of Police president Jim Gilbert, one of the FOP's grievance representatives obtained a copy of the e-mail sent by Baughn. He said a no-quota policy is in the union's contract.

Gilbert said the FOP is monitoring the situation to see if any discipline action is taken and if so, the FOP will file a grievance.

"We strongly discourage quotas and we don't believe there should be such a thing," he said. "We have labor relations meetings every month where we meet with the city and discuss ongoing issues between the FOP and the division of police out there, so we will put this on our agenda and talk about it at the next meeting in April."

dowen@thisweeknews.com