Two Pennsylvania State Police troopers were caught on a dashcam video discussing which one of them should get credit for arresting a man on suspicion of DUI because they both need their “20 for the month.” This is more evidence of an illegal quota system for DUI arrests, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit.
Without performing roadside sobriety tests to establish probable cause in a May 2015 arrest in the parking lot of a bar near Lehighton, troopers speculated whether the suspect sitting in the back of a cruiser was “DUI,” the suit alleges, according to Morning Call.
The video below shows one trooper asking another, “You mind if I take this?” adding, “I need my 20 for the month.”
“I need mine too, but I’ll let you have him,” the other trooper replied.
The lawsuit also claims the arresting trooper and other officers falsely reported drunken-driving violations in the past, and supervisors actually encouraged it by setting illegal quotas for the officers.
MCall noted that the trooper who made the 2015 arrest also lied on reports, claiming he performed field sobriety tests that the motorist failed, when no tests were actually given. The dashcam video does not show any tests being given to the driver, Noah Reed, 34, of Jacksonville, Florida.
“The law doesn’t allow quota systems for a very good reason,” said attorney Joshua Karoly of Allentown, who is representing Reed. “It puts a personal motive into law enforcement and that’s not good for anyone.”
Ticket quotas for Pennsylvania cops have been banned by state law since 1981, but they are obviously still being used.
State police spokesmen did not respond to MCall’s requests for comment on the lawsuit, or questions on whether state police use a quota system, whether the incident has been investigated and about state police policies on field sobriety tests.
When Matthew J. Rapa, Reed’s criminal defense attorney in the DUI case, learned of the video, he filed a motion to suppress the blood-test results that revealed methamphetamine in Reed’s system. In June, a Carbon County judge dismissed the charges of driving under the influence of controlled substances brought against Reed.
In his federal lawsuit, Reed claims his arrest amounted to a false arrest and illegal search and accuses Trooper Ronald Mercatili of false imprisonment, malicious prosecution and violating his constitutional rights.
The facts that Reed had some amount of an illegal drug in his system, and has since pleaded guilty to two unrelated offenses of driving under the influence of a controlled substance are irrelevant, Karoly said.
The allegations in the lawsuit center on the dashcam video and how it contradicts the court documents Mercatili filed against Reed.