Raleigh, N.C. — Raleigh's police chief remained defensive Thursday about his department's new employee evaluation program, as more than 100 officers filed grievances with the city over what they're calling a "quasi-quota" system that "elevates quantity at the expense of quality."
Teamsters Local 391, which represents the Raleigh Police Protective Association, an interest group of nearly 600 officers, says the Priority Performance Measure system judges officers on their actions, such as the number of traffic stops or security checks they carry out or the number of arrests for crimes like driving while impaired.
"Chief (Harry) Dolan is taking us down a path toward a quasi-quota system that will have police officers chasing numbers instead of criminals," Raleigh police officer Trey Walters told reporters at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Speaking on behalf for the RPPA and Teamsters, Walters, an officer for more than three years, said the system ignores "real-world measures of the quality of police work performed."
"Raleigh police officers do not want to be measured just on quantity," he said. "If we have to make a certain number of anything to get a good grade or to get a reward or to keep from getting fired, then I think most people would define that as a quota-based system."
The grievance, which says the new system is "fraught with inaccuracies, inconsistencies and errors," points to several concerns. One, for example, is that officers might end up targeting citizens and writing more tickets to get a better review.
"Chief (Harry) Dolan is taking us down a path toward a quasi-quota system that will have police officers chasing numbers instead of criminals," Walters said.
Dolan says that's not his aim with the new performance review system, which was implemented July 1.
"That's rhetoric, and I take exception to that. That is not a part of this police department, and they should refrain from saying that," he said Thursday. "The men and women of this department do not do that."
The goal of the system, he says, is to accurately measure officers' work, especially as it relates to community policing and officers interacting with the public.
"The strongest part of this system is that it is quota-free," he said. "I think quotas are dysfunctional. I'm opposed to quotas. I want you to work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. I want you to be engaged."
Southeast Raleigh, for example, had a significant problem with guns, gangs and drugs in 2007 and 2008, Dolan says. He asked officers to build trust in the community and work together with residents to reduce violent crime.
"I want us to sustain the great work that we've done in our community. I turned to the men and women of the department and said, 'We need you to do more.’ The community said they're going to do more, and they have."
Dolan says he's aware of problems and concerns that officers have had with the new evaluations. He's met with captains and officers, as well as the Teamsters, in the spring.
Teamsters representative Chip Roth says Dolan has not listened.
"We have tried repeatedly over the last year and a half to express our concerns about this quota-based system," Roth said. "He has simply dismissed those concerns."
He says he expects at least another 100 officers to file similar grievances within the next week.
"I understand completely that they're concerned," Dolan said. "I have to do a better job making sure that I'm out there more. I'm going to do that this month and next month, making sure they have an opportunity to talk to me."