ATR President Grover Norquist published an op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, calling for an end to ‘policing for profit’ that has led to conflict between local communities and police. 

Norquist pointed out that many cities have turned police officers into tax collectors, where police spend more time collecting fines, fees, forfeitures and traffic tickets than they do keeping the community safe. 

This was fully exposed in 2014 in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, after the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police. 

Norquist said:

“A key reason Ferguson police were despised is that the politicians had turned the police into tax collectors for the city. Not sales taxes and income taxes, but fines, fees, forfeitures and traffic tickets.

The reports released by the Department of Justice and the Commission on Civil Rights confirmed that officers’ primary use of arrests and tickets were not for public safety, but as revenue generators.”

However, the problem is not confined to Ferguson. As Norquist goes on to say:

“this tendency of cities to derive a substantial portion of their annual revenue from citations and fines handed out by law enforcement agencies is poison nationwide. Access to courts and due process should not depend on race or income, and court-imposed financial penalties should consider a person’s ability to pay.”

The practice of suspending drivers licenses for unpaid fines and fees, and non-driver safety-related offenses needs to stop.

“In modern America, how do we expect anyone to earn money to pay for traffic fines if one is under effective house arrest and unable to drive a car to work?”

The article includes statistics and information about the practice of policing for profit in Ferguson, Chicago, and California, and what has subsequently been done to curb this abuse.

Read the full piece here.