News

Police lawsuit claims department quotas

Officer suing Mountain View over his 2014 firing

A lawsuit filed by a fired Mountain View police officer alleges that department officials embraced statistics-based law enforcement, which was tantamount to an illegal quota system. A Santa Clara County Superior Court judge is expected to decide on Thursday, Feb. 2, whether the civil lawsuit over his termination should go forward to a full jury trial.

Nicolas Emmerling, 36, filed a lawsuit against the city of Mountain View in 2015 after he was fired from the police department, where he worked since 2008. The department has publicly given no specific reason for why he was terminated, but Emmerling and his attorneys argue it came as a result of his service in the California Army National Guard.

Now nearly two years old, the case and its allegations have brought to light allegations of some questionable operations at the police department. In depositions brought forward by Emmerling's attorneys, officers indicated the department was running an off-the-books quota system, tying advancement for rank-and-file officers to how many arrests, tickets and traffic stops they were making.

In testimony given last February, Officer Ranjan Singh told the court that all officers were aware the department had a "de facto quota" in effect.

"They don't give you a number, but if you don't write more, your job is on the line," Singh told the court. "It's a performance metric. A loan company keeps a loan officer ... who gets the most loans."

Singh said the emphasis on numbers would influence officers to give out citations in situations where they might normally let off people with a warning. Commanding officers didn't give out specific number targets to officers, he said, but rather they would press their officers to produce more "self-initiated" activity on a regular basis. City officials define this activity as actions taken by an officer beyond responding to dispatch or 911 calls.

"It's clear they're very driven by a desire to have high stats, and they're encouraging officers to have those stats," said Frank Busch, an attorney representing Emmerling. "To me, that's the same thing (as a quota)."

Representatives of the Mountain View Police Department and city attorney's office declined the Voice's request for comment because the litigation is pending.

According to his superiors at the department, Emmerling was fired in 2014 for showing a lack of initiative. Lt. Frank St. Clair, who served as Emmerling's supervisor, testified that he doubted the quality of Emmerling's police work based on his failure to produce enough arrests or reportable activity over a six-month term. St. Clair later recommended he be terminated, but he said the decision was never linked to a specific number target.

"The fact that he has zeroes in most months that he works under arrests is extremely disconcerting," St. Clair said in his testimony. "He had ample free time and nothing is happening during that ample free time. That's the disconcerting part of it."

Allegations of an unofficial quota system are just one facet of Emmerling's case against the city. The lawsuit focuses mainly on his attorneys' charge that he was terminated as a result of his military service. Under federal law, civilian employees are supposed to be entitled to up to five years of unpaid leave to serve in the military, with the guarantee they can return to their jobs afterward. Employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees who enlist in military service.

Emmerling, a former U.S. Marine who served two tours in Iraq, was originally hired in 2008 as a Mountain View police reserve officer. He was later promoted to a full-time sworn officer position in 2012, but he was left on employment probation for nearly two years. During this time, he joined the Army National Guard and balanced this with his police work.

His lawyers contend that Emmerling had strong performance reviews from his supervisors, based in part off his comparatively high number of arrests, citations and field contacts. But their opinion of him reportedly soured he began to request more time off for National Guard service as well as paternity leave.

Emmerling's lawyers allege that around this time St. Clair and other commanding officers conspired to create a paper trail of poor evaluations and reprimands to create the grounds to terminate him. His legal team is seeking to get Emmerling reinstated in his job with compensation for damage to his professional career, but the precise amount isn't being specified.

In legal briefs, city attorneys argued that Emmerling was terminated because he failed to show improvement in his performance, and they dispute the notion that his military service had anything to do with his firing. Police officials knew about his military status before he was hired, and they allowed him to take a full year off in 2009 to serve in Iraq.

Judge Maureen Folan is expected this week to decide whether the lawsuit should move to a full trial, following a motion by the city for an immediate ruling on the case. The hearing is scheduled to take place after the Voice's Wednesday press deadline.

Another, unrelated lawsuit filed against the police department is also pending. A sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by former police dispatcher Annie Lohman. Lohman's suit alleges that police Chief Max Bosel made unwanted advances toward her and encouraged lewd jokes and behavior among the officers. That case is currently in the pre-trial process.

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Comments

76 people like this
Posted by Otto Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 2, 2017 at 3:44 pm

The idea cops don't have ticket (and arrest) quotas is laughable. Always have, always will.

Metrics might be a good way to run a business but it's not a good way to manage public safety.


94 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of Whisman Station
on Feb 2, 2017 at 4:04 pm

The new word for quotas is " metrics ". Designed to work around the State laws against quotas. " Your metrics are down " means you are not writing enough tickets. " Our city need more revenue, so keep improving your metrics or we must terminate you! "
This same speech is being heard around the Nation in police stations everywhere. Especially the lawsuit prone places like Denver. The City Council has had to pay out $Millions over questionable police behavior. So I'm not surprised the MVPD fihally got caught. They have had quotas for DECADES.


19 people like this
Posted by Serpico
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 2, 2017 at 4:22 pm

The Mountain View Police Department needs a thorough house cleaning.

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Noneyabizz
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 2, 2017 at 4:40 pm

are you people that ignorant that you name officers currently on the job in your article that the department can now also retaliate on thanks to your article? Numerous officers were questioned. Why make it seem like only one did, and why ruin their lives for your stupid headlines?


29 people like this
Posted by Questions
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Feb 2, 2017 at 6:12 pm

The public is fickle. On one hand they accuse all cops of being lazy and do nothing's, On the other hand they accuse the cops of having quotas and only writing tickets for revenue . Geez being a cop must suck, you are always wrong.


49 people like this
Posted by savvy
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 2, 2017 at 11:52 pm

We want our police officers to protect us from crime and to get rid of criminals. However, we often get a ticket because we did not stop all the way in the stop sign or for a brief moment we sped up for a moment to get out of a congestion, just to get the quota and the officer get a promotion at the end of the year. This is totally wrong and I am glad to see a former policeman reporting it publicly. We all knew about it, anyway. Now, I hope that something will be done about it.


17 people like this
Posted by Tippester
a resident of North Bayshore
on Feb 3, 2017 at 6:22 am

Here's a tip...make a full stop at the stop sign and you don't get a ticket. Cities don't make revenue on ticket. That is just laughable.

The fact is you are hired to do a job and if you spend all your time chatting and going to Starbucks you are not doing right for the people you serve.

One can not drive down an busy street and not see some driver racing through traffic ready to cause that collision. That collision causes more problems with people getting injuries, fire trucks to now assist, traffic to back up, others to miss appointments and overall frustration. So may be if that lazy officer did something, pulled that driver over and gave him that ticket just once he might have safed a life or at least a lot of stress.

What I read in this story is a lazy person trying to get his job back and coming up with excuses and a department trying to make sure they have officers that actually want to serve the people and keep the public safe.

Tough thankless job. I'll continue to work my tech job. Another tip, don't be lazy, get a good education and join my employers bus and write commentary like this while riding and don't worry about getting a ticket.


12 people like this
Posted by MORE Tickets PLEASE!!!!
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 3, 2017 at 6:31 am

Yes, I agree. I hope we get enough money to have enough cops to ticket all the law breakers with all their excuses (read some in this thread)as well as protecting us from property and violent crirmes.
Once drivers realize there is big risk involved with breaking road laws in MV, we'll all be much safer.


32 people like this
Posted by Army Vet
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Feb 3, 2017 at 6:53 am

@Tippester

"lazy person trying to get his job back"? It says the guy did two tours in Iraq. Nor lazy nor cowardly he is. The rest of the MVPD crew just want to be heroes and military types the way the surround themselves with military-style hardware.


11 people like this
Posted by Six Months
a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 3, 2017 at 7:01 am

Ha - if I did six months without producing a work product I would have been fired too. One month in my world.

I am surprised that it took that long. Hey officers that are looking for something to do how about dealing with all the bad drivers on shoreline racing towards the freeway or all the problems at Bailey Plaza.


10 people like this
Posted by Also
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 3, 2017 at 3:10 pm

@Army Vet - totally understand where you coming from but what I think @Tippester is saying is true. In every industry there are those that start strong or are good workers but as soon as the supervisor, sergeant, manager, commander is not around they do the minimum to just get by or not get noticed. As a vet myself, I had fellow teammates in my unit that would do a he minimum. Yes, during our deployments and in critical situations they would be there with you and in the most critical situations they do their best to support the mission but that said they were the never going to advance or do the extra to be better soldiers.

I am sure everyone is thinking of that guy or gal that is their circle, their team, their work group that is just like what has been discribed above.


12 people like this
Posted by Some lie.
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 4, 2017 at 9:57 am

Some people lie to promote there own agenda and or to cover up a mistake. O's really?

I hope the Officer wins. The Mountain View Police needs change... from top to bottom.

Then the sex scandal. Wow. Where is our City Manager/Mayor. Shouldn't the city look out for the best interest of the employees and the community by regulating the actions of the police administrators.

This will affect all the citizens of Mountain View.


22 people like this
Posted by So?
a resident of Bailey Park
on Feb 5, 2017 at 9:28 am

So what's the update? The week is over... Is the case going on or did the court rule that there was no violation? Usually when you do see a follow-up story that means the lawsuit was thrown out and the employee was wrong.


15 people like this
Posted by dave
a resident of Willowgate
on Feb 6, 2017 at 2:59 am

MVPD no doubt has some good officers, but the departmental culture is simply just rotten and needs a reboot. Multiple scandals, ticket quotas, arrest quotas, over focus on paramilitary equipment, misogyny, criminalizing innocent people, us vs them attitude toward MV citizens, $25 to sign off a fix-it ticket, excessive 'copchismo', and the list goes on...
Please FIRE Bosel and hire a reformer who can raise the level of community relations to the same level as the MVFD. Coffee With a Cop just ain't cuttin it.


7 people like this
Posted by Wow
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Feb 6, 2017 at 5:37 am

@dave
We are talking about Mountain View a California right. You are assuming a lot because what you are saying is simply not reality.


4 people like this
Posted by @dave
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Sounds like you got a speeding ticket.


6 people like this
Posted by Otto_Maddox
a resident of Monta Loma
on Feb 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm

Otto_Maddox is a registered user.

In my world here is how the police would work.

COME WHEN YOU ARE CALLED.

Just like the fire department. We like firemen right? Why? Because they come when we call. We call when we need help. We like people who help us.

"Proactive" policing does not work. It does not make us any more safe that's for sure.


8 people like this
Posted by Hmm
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 6, 2017 at 3:05 pm

So, ignore any attempt to run traffic enforcement? Just wait until someone calls and says there's a Buick in my living room, or wait for the call that a kid was hit crossing his residential street on the way to school?
Interesting tactic, but I'm not sure it was totally thought through.


8 people like this
Posted by proactive
a resident of Castro City
on Feb 7, 2017 at 2:33 pm

I don't think anyone has a problem with officers being proactive. But if this department used it as its sole justification for releasing him that's wrong any way you cut it. As the other officer said, this would pressure officers to write tickets or make arrests that are either questionable or ones they might not otherwise make based upon their sole discretion. There are laws against quotas for that very reason. It sounds like there are are other officers validating emerling's claims. If so, the City really ought to be taking a closer look at their department. Let's hope for all our sake they aren't just blindly trusting what the department leadership tells them.


4 people like this
Posted by the_punnisher
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 8, 2017 at 4:41 pm

the_punnisher is a registered user.

In an OPEN CARRY State, the saying is " 5 minutes or 1600fps, you decide ". The SCOTUS actually ruled that an INDIVIDUAL DID NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO HAVE POLICE PROTECTION
Web Link

The irony, just South is one of the places where firearms help keep the peace ( many Military people retire in Colorado Springs ) and burglars have a short life expectancy.
So since we don't have a cop on every corner and you cannot expect them to protect an individual, what can you do? The only answer: get a CCW permit and use it. ANY cop does not have to protect you, so you must protect yourself.


10 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Feb 9, 2017 at 6:29 pm

The court ruled that the lawsuit had no merit and the City won. The employees lawsuit was without merit as well were his allegations. Total victory for the City.


9 people like this
Posted by JAck
a resident of Cuernavaca
on Feb 9, 2017 at 6:31 pm

The former officer was let go because he wasnt any good and for no other reason according to the court. . Accept that buddy. Enough!


6 people like this
Posted by We the people
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Feb 10, 2017 at 9:10 pm

Jack doesn't know jack. The city should really take a look at the administration and make changes. A bunch of liars. MVPD has lost the communities trust. Officers have no discretion and they can't even trust the administration to correct their own mistakes.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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