Raleigh police union: New evaluation process is ‘thinly veiled’ quota system

From the other side of the barricades…

RALEIGH — The Teamsters union on Friday announced that it had filed another grievance on behalf of 100 officers and civilian employees of the Raleigh Police Department.

That means that 200 police officers and employees have signed grievance letters opposing the department’s new evaluation system, known as Priority Performances Measures, that was implemented July 1.

The union said the new system relies too heavily on officers handing out citations and making arrests and amounts to a “thinly veiled” quota system.

The Teamsters union, which represents about 90 percent of the department’s 777 sworn officers, filed the four-page grievance letter Friday with the City of Raleigh’s personnel office.

Last week, Raleigh Police Chief Harry Patrick Dolan said the union’s assertions about the new evaluation system are false.

Dolan could not reached for comment Friday, but last week he denied the department was using a quota system and lambasted what he described as scare tactics that would give the false impression that officers would be pulling people over to fill out their numbers. He also denounced quotas and said he’s been working with officers’ concerns about the new evaluation system.

Dolan also said members of the police command staff will continue to make recommendations and decisions about pay and promotions.

But Rick Armstrong, a former police officer, past president of the Raleigh Police Protective Association and current business agent with Teamsters Local 391, said the perception among rank-and-file officers is the new evaluation process is a quota system.

“It’s really not a set number. It depends on the other officer arrests in your squad,” he said Friday. “If you are part of five officers patrolling a beat and four of them make 30 arrests, then you are required to be within a 25 to 26 range. That’s where the concern is because you have to be within a certain range of the other officers who are working the same beat.”

The grievance filed Friday states that “officers looking to improve their scores are left with little or no options but to target citizens in situations where discretion would normally have been used. Or worse, the (officer) will be required to write a minimum amount of tickets or make a certain number of stops.”

The grievance claims the system provides no ability for supervisors to account for subtle nuances or intangible aspects of work performance, “because the system is not capable of measuring anything but raw numbers.”

“An officer can arrest Eric Rudolph,” Armstrong said, referring to the Olympic Centennial Park bomber, “and someone else can arrest someone of no significance at all, but in the new system it’s equal.”

The letter also states that there is an atmosphere within the department that discourages employees from making constructive criticism of the leadership. It claims the new evaluation system “is strongly opposed by countless officers and civilian staff at every rank ranging from senior management to recently graduated officers. In fact, there are several employees who have been assigned the development and implementation of this system who strongly oppose it.”

Dolan said the department chose a new evaluation system to address skepticism of the old system, which rated 90 percent of officers as “outstanding.” He said the new system is expected to show that 80 percent of Raleigh officers are doing an acceptable job, with some needing work to improve. He predicted that a small number, about 5 percent, would eventually be encouraged to find work elsewhere.

The union’s first set of grievances were delivered last week, when Raleigh police officer Trey Walters spoke to the media on behalf of fellow union members. This week, the union released an audio recording, purportedly of Raleigh police Capt. Chris Carrigan sharply criticizing Walters for lying to members of the press while inflaming the public and embarrassing himself, the police department and the union.