Cops and police officers must have probable cause before they can initiate a traffic stop. More and more it seems that certain departments are trying to get around this requirement and are issuing quotas and training forcing cops to find results, even without probable cause to do so.
The USA Today highlighted one story of a N.J. police officer who has tried to stand up and do what is right. If you feel something similar to this has happened to you, and you have unjustly been charged of a crime or traffic violation, please contact The Law Offices of Thomas A. Smith immediately.
Officer: Bosses target young drivers, want ticket quotas
Peggy Wright, (Morris County, N.J.) Daily Record1:36 p.m. EDT May 29, 2014
MORRISTOWN, N.J. — A cop who said he refuses to profile young drivers for tickets has filed a lawsuit saying he's been passed over for promotions and overtime because of his actions.
Patrolman Robert Wysokowski, 43, of the Mendham Township Police Department filed suit Wednesday in Superior Court here under New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act, also known as the Whistleblower Law. He seeks promotion to sergeant, punitive and compensatory damages for "all lost benefits, wages and rights," and damages for emotional distress.
Wysokowski contends that he has consistently met department standards on enforcement of motor vehicle laws but beginning in 2005, under now-former Police Chief Thomas Costanza, he was told he had to "increase his numbers." The suit said that in 2005, Steven Crawford, who was then a sergeant but now is chief, advised Wysokowski to "seek out and target younger drivers for motor vehicle stops."
"Crawford told plaintiff that it was 'good police work,' or words to that effect," the lawsuit said. The complaint said superiors advised Wysokowski that he always could find an infraction when he stopped a vehicle.
Wysokowski began working at the police department in 1998 for $36,425. As of last year, he was earning $99,192 annually, but after 16 years he remains a patrolman.
Township Mayor Maribeth Thomas said she has not seen the lawsuit and was not aware one was contemplated. "As the facts come out, we will be as open as possible with the public that we can," Thomas said. Township Attorney John M. Mills III declined to comment on the lawsuit. and Crawford was not immediately available for comment.
"Then-Sgt. Crawford advised plaintiff to pull over any car with a group of younger drivers/passengers who appeared to be in their late teens or early twenties," the lawsuit said. "Crawford went so far as to suggest to plaintiff that he should look for vehicles with a Morris County College parking permit or other identifier and to stop that vehicle."
Wysokowski claims he repeatedly stated that such profiling was against laws regarding probable cause to stop vehicles but was advised "to keep his mouth shut."
The lawsuit alleges that 2005 was the beginning of a continuing pattern of retaliatory conduct that continues to this day. The alleged retaliatory actions have included reprimands for draining the battery on a police vehicle, being visited at home when he called in sick, being accused of failing to meet ticket "quotas," being denied overtime chances and being passed by for promotion twice to sergeant in the 15-officer department, including last year.
Wysokowski charged that he has been written up unfairly multiple times, accused of being late for work and even for giving juveniles summonses for local ordinance violations for being in a park after dark.
"Defendants continue to encourage officers to write as many summonses and effectuate motor vehicle stops regardless of whether probable cause exists, including a quota implemented in or about November 2013 whereby patrolmen assigned to a detail were required to write 15 tickets in a four-hour span," the suit said. "According to (a sergeant), if an officer did not issue the 15 summonses, then that officer would not be eligible for overtime."
Wysokowski also accused superiors of training younger officers to shine lights into moving vehicles to determine the age of drivers and passengers.