NewsFox 13 Investigates


Ogden doubles down on what lawmakers call an ‘illegal police quota’

City will be required to answer to state rules and oversight committee
Posted at 8:02 PM, May 24, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-25 20:31:29-04

OGDEN, Utah — Ogden is doubling down on what some Utah lawmakers refer to as an “illegal police quota.”

Last week, FOX 13 News revealed how drivers, state legislators, and police officers believe Ogden is breaking the law by employing a “point system” that evaluates patrol officers based on the number of tickets they write.

Utah banned police quotas in 2018.

Despite complaints from officers and members of the public, the Ogden City Council joined Mayor Mike Caldwell in stating they are proud of Chief Eric Young and the point system he uses.

Chief Young gave a passionate speech on Tuesday night in response to the FOX 13 News investigation. He said the point system allows him to hold officers accountable for the number of tickets they write.

“Two tickets in a 40-hour week. It’s not a quota,” he said. “Traffic citations are what reduce serious injuries and fatal accidents. Warnings don’t reduce them. Officers being present don’t reduce them.”

For that reason, officers receive only half as many points for issuing a warning compared to a ticket.

Mayor Caldwell said he has been aware of Ogden PD’s point system since it was created in 2016.

“The minimum standard is two tickets per 40 hours of work,” said Mayor Caldwell. “That’s a pretty low bar.”

“Whether it’s a low bar or a high bar, how is two tickets per week not considered a quota?” asked FOX 13 News investigative reporter Adam Herbets.

“I don’t think it is (a quota) at all,” Mayor Caldwell responded. “I’d say every single agency has some type of performance measure... You (as a journalist) are going to be held accountable for how many stories you produce, and where you go, and how you dig, and what you do.”

There is no state law banning quotas for journalists.

“People can call it a quota. People can call it a lot of things, but I think that we’ve been very open and transparent,” said Mayor Caldwell. “We want (officers) in Ogden that really want to be here and do that kind of work.”

Chief Young on a pedestal

After listening to the presentation, Councilmember Richard Hyer said he was “pretty happy” with the point system.

“Chief, you have remained on the pedestal that I think you’re on, so thank you for that,” he said. “There’s got to be some accountability. If there is no accountability, you really don’t have a police force.”

When asked about the concerns voiced by Ogden PD officers, Councilmember Hyer said he could not address what he considers to be “hearsay.”

“I can’t speak to things that I have not heard directly,” he said. “If there’s something that we’re doing wrong for some reason, I can’t fathom it.”

Councilmember Ben Nadolski voiced his support but indicated he was concerned about community trust and public perception.

“I want (drivers) to know, if they get a citation, it’s because they deserve it,” he said.

One member of the public who identified himself as Malik referred to the chief’s presentation as “mental gymnastics” to “try to convince everybody that what he’s doing is a point system and is not a quota system.”

“From now on, when I get pulled over, if I get a ticket, I’m going to know it’s because that officer is looking at his career,” Malik said. “He’s looking to build up points, to get incentives, to get promoted, to get more pay, and I don’t believe that’s correct.”

Councilmember Marcia White said she thinks it’s a good thing officers receive more points for writing a ticket than giving a warning.

“If I was an officer... I might be pulling over people that really don’t deserve to be pulled over,” she said. “I’d be out there writing warnings all day long.”

Response from Utah State Legislature

Several state lawmakers told FOX 13 News they were not impressed with Chief Young’s presentation or the response from Ogden City Council.

Former Sen. Howard Stephenson, the author of the 2018 bill that banned police quotas, said he believes the Ogden City Council and Mayor Caldwell are complicit.

“(Chief Young) is balancing their budget,” Stephenson said. They can weather a few weeks of bad press but cannot balance an ongoing budget without shaking down drivers.”

Both Mayor Caldwell and Chief Young denied the point system has anything to do with revenue.

Nevertheless, Ogden received more revenue per capita last fiscal year from “fines and forfeitures” than any other large city in Utah.

Sen. Todd Weiler, R- Woods Cross, said he still believes revenue is Ogden’s primary consideration. He has promised to pass a bill to strengthen the ban on police quotas.

“People aren’t stupid,” he said. “They wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t profitable to them.”

According to Sen. Curt Bramble (R-Provo) and Rep. Kera Birkeland (R-Morgan), Ogden will soon be required to answer tothe Administrative Rules Review and General Oversight Committee.

City leaders said they would be willing to reconsider their position on the point system if compelled to do so.

Alternatives to points and quotas

Ogden is not the only city that uses a numerical performance metric to evaluate officers.

In response to a FOX 13 News request filed under Utah’s public records law, more than 110 law-enforcement agencies in Utah have disclosed they do not use quotas or point-based evaluations.

To learn more about that story, click here.

Story Idea or Tips
If you have a story idea or tip for the FOX 13 Investigative unit, please share it with us below: