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FHP email demands troopers write 2 tickets per hour

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(Floriday Highway Patrol)

TAMPA – A report claims an email sent by a ranking Florida Highway Patrol official asked troopers to issue at least 2 citations each hour.

The Tampa Bay Times reports Maj. Mark Welch of Troop H sent out the email.

"The patrol wants to see two citations each hour...," Welch writes. "This is not a quota; it is what we are asking you to do to support this important initiative." 

Welch sites SOAR, the Statewide Overtime Action Response program, as the reason for the request.

SOAR allows FHP troopers to earn extra money by trying to deter speeding. Welch claims troopers in his North Florida troop are not writing enough tickets, saying "so we have a goal to reach."

The Times report adds that the Florida Highway Patrol does not receive revenue from speeding tickets. 

Despite the appearances of the email request sounding like a quota, a FHP veteran interviewed by the Times believes it was poor communication, but there is nothing nefarious in Welch's request.

"It's like a want," Lt. Col. Mike Thomas told the Times. "We're just trying to promote our guys getting out, making the stops, having contact with the public, educating them, and we do have discretion. No one has ever taken discretion away from a patrol officer."

However, the president of the FHP chapter of the Florida PBA believes the email was setting the parameters for a quota.

"Two tickets per hour? That's a quota, and that's a violation of state statute, period. No ifs, ands or buts," William Smith said.