Officer Fired After Questioning Illegal Quota System At Department

Former Collegedale Police Officer Robert Bedell has filed a lawsuit against the police chief and the city.

Collegedale, TN – The Collegedale Police Department and the city it serves are in hot water after the chief fired a veteran officer who questioned the department’s implementation of an illegal quota system.

A quota system that required every Collegedale police officer to get a minimum of 25 citations or arrests per month, and document at least 100 “patrol activities” in that same time, was launched by the police department in December of 2018, according to a lawsuit filed by former Collegedale Police Officer Robert Bedell, the Times Free Press reported.

The lawsuit, which was filed in Hamilton County Circuit Court on July 3, alleged that Collegedale Police Chief Brian Hickman had implemented a quota system at the police department in direct violation of a Tennessee law that prohibits quotas in law enforcement.

Tennessee law says that departments may set standards for their officers but may not suggest or require the officers issue a predetermined number of traffic citations in a specified period of time, the Times Free Press reported.

But former Officer Bedell said he attended a mandatory meeting at the Collegedale PD on Jan. 6 with his sergeant and two other officers during which the sergeant outlined the new minimum monthly requirements.

The sergeant warned that failure to hit established minimum numbers on a monthly basis would result in write ups to be put in their personnel files.

The lawsuit said that Officer Bedell immediately asked whether the new requirements were legal given that Tennessee law prohibited quotas, and his sergeant said he was unfamiliar with that law.

The police department kept track of the stats and posted them on the wall inside headquarters. They also ranked all of the Collegedale police officers in order based on their citations, arrests, and patrol activities statistics that were collected.

The very next day after Officer Bedell asked about the legality of setting quotas in the meeting, Collegedale Police Patrol Division Lieutenant Jack Sapp sent out an email to the officers that explained the new quota system wasn’t actually a quota system, but rather, it was “standards and directives,” the Times Free Press reported.

The email said that field interviews and traffics stops with written or verbal warnings would also count towards each officer’s total.

However, the stats flyer posted on the police department’s wall did not include numbers for those activities in the counts used to determine rankings, the Times Free Press reported.

Three days after that, on Jan. 7, Chief Hickman told Officer Bedell he needed to talk to him when he arrived for work, according to the lawsuit.

He led the officer into a conference room where two other officials waited and then told Officer Bedell he had the option to be fired or to resign.

When Officer Bedell asked what he had done wrong, the chief told him that Tennessee was an at-will hiring state and therefore, he owed the officer no explanation for his termination, the lawsuit alleged.

Officer Bedell pointed out that he wouldn’t get unemployment benefits if he resigned and Chief Hickman told him that he wouldn’t get unemployment anyway because the department planned to oppose his application for it.

“Chief Hickman further stated that if Officer Bedell agreed to resign, the Department would not seek to revoke his Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification,” the lawsuit said. “In order to be a law enforcement officer in the state of Tennessee, an officer must maintain his or her POST certification. Without a POST certification, Officer Bedell would not be able to work in law enforcement.”

Faced with losing his state certification, Officer Bedell felt he had no choice but to resign under duress.

Chief Hickman refused to tell Officer Bedell who had conducted the investigation that led to his termination, according to the lawsuit.

“At all relevant times, Officer Bedell’s resignation was involuntary, coerced and forced by his supervisors with the Collegedale Police Department and the City of Collegedale including Chief Hickman and City Manager Ted Rogers,” the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit alleged that Officer Bedell’s forced resignation was in direct retaliation for the officer asking about the legality of the department’s new quotas.

Former Officer Bedell’s lawsuit said that his termination violated several other Tennessee laws that guarantee police officers due process, including one called the Tennessee Public Protection Act that specifically prohibits terminating at-will employees for reporting violations of local, state, or federal law.

When Collegedale City Commissioner Ethan White learned about the police department’s quota system after Bedell’s lawsuit was filed, he called for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to step in and get to the bottom of it, the Times Free Press reported.

"I'm speechless," White said during the public meeting held after the lawsuit was filed. "I know there is pending litigation and a wrongful termination suit... but too long here in Collegedale we've swept things under the rug."

Former Officer Bedell’s lawsuit has asked the court to reinstate the police officer, award back pay and benefits, as well as $250,000 in compensatory damages, $250,000 in punitive damages, and attorney and court fees.

Comments (30)
No. 1-20
jakki taylor
jakki taylor

I hope he sues and wins big. This department was flat wrong, though my lat husband also worked for a department in Ohio that had a quota while back tracking on what it was called.

Bud
Bud

I wish him the best of luck, this type of behavior went out (or was supposed to) years ago and should not be tolerated. There are way too many underhanded tactics by some chiefs and politicians, and it can stop if criminal charges are put forth on all parties involved.

IseeWhereThisIsGoing
IseeWhereThisIsGoing

He should sue... but he might lose because he resigned (even under duress), instead of having them terminate him. When faced with an illegal termination, let them fire you, then consult an attorney. you can always fight the revocation of the POST afterwards. Last I checked, you need grounds to revoke a POST certification; simply being terminated for bringing up department policies that are against the law won't qualify.

And just because the department opposes your unemployment doesn't mean you won't get it, especially if they terminated you under questionable circumstances.

LEO0301
LEO0301

Every department tracks numbers but you can't require a certain number of tickets or arrests. My department wouldn't say anything, even if you didn't write a single ticket the entire month. Where they got you was in your end of the year evaluation where you could receive a merit increase if you got an above or outstanding evaluation. Money talks so most officers did at least the bare minimum.

Dutchuncle
Dutchuncle

The PD I worked for had a 30 ticket a month quota and at least 20 Misdemeanor Arrests a month or you worked the Jail, drove the Wagon or Worked some other BS assignment like City Counsel, etc Most of them I would rather Take a day OFF without pay then do them

JBo
JBo

Really bad odor about this firing...hope he wins big and this "chief" takes a header out the door.

WilliamO
WilliamO

The 'Chief' needs to be terminated immediately for violating state law, retaliation and his violation of the civil rights of the office and HIS state credentials revoked. Reinstate the officer with back pay, benefits, seniority and if their were any promotions in his grade while he was fired promote him.

Excalibr4
Excalibr4

That Chief has got to go. The good news is he was stupid enough to put his stupidity in an email as evidence. I am picturing him trying to explain to the judge how quotas and "directives" are two entirely different things. Then there is the matter of firing someone for no reason and telling them their claim for unemployment will be fought.

Bad Bob
Bad Bob

The #1 biggest lie, in the entire world, is: "We don't have a ticket quota." Ask those TWELVE HUNDRED LAPD motor officers who protested having to write TWENTY-TWO tickets EACH SHIFT.

HAWAIIBLUE
HAWAIIBLUE

The brass is at it again. These guys get some rank and then forget where they came from. I bet this chief, wasn’t a good street cop. He probably has very little road time and mostly quick promotions going from desk job to desk job, stepping on who he had to and getting on his knees when he needed to get to where he wanted to go. Then when he’s up there, his lack of experience and probably only book smarts got the better of him as his head swole up. I hope this department gets hammered and the officer wins his lawsuit. I can’t stand those kinds of leaders.

NomonK
NomonK

Tennessee is an At Will State but all Honorable employers explain the reason for legitimate firings. The state also protects whistleblowers. So either way this suburb of Chattanooga will pay and pay big.

artw44
artw44

I think a couple, or a few somebodies need to have some time out time to think about what they did! Lock them up, make him chief. This is what gives cops a bad name, poor management.

RPG156
RPG156

Its my instinct that we will find out that there is much more to the story than is listed. Although, small town chiefs do strange and counter-productive things.

RPG156
RPG156

Although a quota is unlawful just about everywhere, officers should have to show some kind of activity when not answering calls. I think that we can all agree that the goal of a traffic stop is to discover other crime or change dangerous behavior. A fine or having to go to court does that far more effectively than a verbal warning. Period.

Stanracer
Stanracer

Hopefully this officer gets a huge settlement and can then go work for another police agency that will appreciate him.

Skidoo
Skidoo

Some years ago a buddy cop told me that during a traffic stop the driver asked him if he was getting a ticket to fill the department's quota. He answered that his department got rid of the quota system so now he can write all the tickets he wants.

Nighthawk644
Nighthawk644

Collegedale might as well get that checkbook opened because they are not gonna win this one. He will get his job back, back pay and probably some other amount of money from the lawsuit. After writing the check to Officer Bedell, they should fire the chief because he is obviously a DUMBASS!

Woobie46
Woobie46

This is ALL about $$$. The manager of the city wants $$$ so he starts these types of things that generate cash for their slush fund(s) ... that is what this is about and nothing else. CIVIL SUITS MATTER!

MajScallywag
MajScallywag

Dang! This story infuriates me so much I pray that the officer receives at least the $500,000. If not more. And don’t let the bastards drag their feet in paying up! Sleaseballs.

La Migra
La Migra

I'm surprise the police union didn't step in on his behalf and to fight the quota system that would affect the working conditions that they had no input on.