Citation Quotas in St Paul


Citation Quotas in St Paul

Here we go — St Paul (MN) has set quotas for its parking enforcement officers. Read all about it here.

On average, according to management, about 55 tickets should be written during a shift.  Assuming the shift is 8 hours, That’s just over 6 an hour, or one every 10 minutes.  Of course the local citizenry is up in arms, and the police union is probably threatening something, even though the parking officers aren’t cops.

So, what do I think?

I think setting a standard is just good management.  There is no question that there are more tickets to write than are written. Probably most parking violations go unticketed.  So there seems to be no question of the availability of tickets to write. As for the "over-zealousness" argument. I think its what we need.  If a person is breaking the law, let em get a ticket, pay the fine, and not break the law next time.

The officers that are writing tickets for cars that aren’t truly breaking the law will stand out quickly as theirs will be challenged more often than others and they can be counseled, and if found to be writing unfounded citations, fired.

We set standards and quotas in virtually every other part of our lives, from schooling to sales, from production lines to how much we are supposed to give to church. 

A good manager can adjust an officer’s territory or quota over a period of time, and move people around to see quickly who is doing a good job and who is a slacker.

The average number of tickets written on a shift in St Paul seems to be in the 40s.  My guess is that the 55 number is about right.

A few years ago I toured a cell phone manufacturing plant in Scotland.  They were turning out millions of the suckers each year and had a number of lines working side by side.  They were concerned about production falling down. So they put large electric signs at the beginning of each production line and displayed the current units per hour of each line.  The numbers took the total units produced and deducted the number of rejects.  With that simple bit of management, production doubled in one month.

Setting goals and letting people know what they are gives people a bit of competition, and also lets them know when they are doing a good job. If you have no goal, how can you know when you have succeeded.


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

3 Responses

  1. John I believe that I should comment on your article, on the Citation Quotas and the target of 55 per shift. As I believe that your comments about this being good management are misguided, and based on the UK experience I believe that to pursue such a high quota and for this number to be a set target will eventually become a very negative issue.
    As you are aware, for the last 15 years many Local Authorities here in the UK have been using contractors for Parking Enforcement, initially as is normal with private contractors targets were set and these were pursued with vigour by contractors as they could either incur contractual penalties or loss of bonuses by not meeting the target, and of course this resulted in pressure being exerted on the enforcers to ensure targets were achieved.
    It has been clear to us in the UK that this commercial approach to quotas has caused many problems and the national press has had a field day in castigating this policy to such an extent that it has made the parking attendant a much maligned figure with a perceived opinion by the public at large that their only purposes is to collect further local taxes from the motorist. Such is the hatred of parking attendants; due in part to the stirrings of the gutter press, that the turn over of parking attendants is over 60% per year in many organisations.
    The damage done here to our parking profession is so extensive and has become such an emotive issue that central government is currently undertaking a major review; aimed to restore public credibility and introduce a better and fairer system for the motorist.
    To my knowledge many of our organisations are now working very hard to correct the mistakes made in the past and as a result targets have been softened considerably, with much greater emphasis now given on punishing unquestionable offences, and major contraventions.
    At present new measures are being examined with the aim of introducing different levels of parking offences and fines to suit the offence committed.
    In my view, it is also important for the US market to introduce in many places more types of payment for parking including payment by phone and credit card, and to include the opportunity to be able to remotely extend the time paid as this type of flexibility will demonstrate a higher level of commitment by the authority that they have done all is possible and that fines are only issued as a last resort.

  2. Manny Manny Manny…
    The first question is whether or not the citations written are valid. If they are, then quota’s aren’t an issue. If they aren’t then first counsel then fire then officer.
    I noted that the manager should “adjust” quotas based on a n officer’s route, weather, and other factors.
    The problem in the UK, as you point out, is that the press likes to find something wrong with virtually anything. If the issue is that officers are writing bogus tickets, then solve that problem. Its not the quota per say that causes that.
    I don’t see anything above that says that the tickets are bogus. People simply don’t want to obey the law and for years parking issues were ignored by the police. Now what private industry has taken over, and is in fact enforcing the law, the drivers don’t like it.
    As for methods of payment, and extending the time to park, that is policy. Often they don’t want to allow time to be extended because they want turnover. Personally I think all on street parking is under priced and should be charged as a high rate.

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