The second-highest ranking official in the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) has resigned amid an ongoing probe into ticket-writing quotas for its troopers, according to The Orlando Sentinel.
Lt. Col. Michael Thomas stepped down Monday after it was discovered he sent an email in May urging troopers to issue two tickets hourly.
“[It was a] grave error,” he said in a letter announcing his early retirement. “This error negatively impacted the patrol’s image, which was never the intent.”
Thomas, who made $131,000 annually in his role as deputy director, added that he believes “it is in the best interest of the patrol that I retire.”
Col. Gene Spaulding, the highway patrol’s director, said Thomas’s email was sent with the aim of “providing enhanced public safety.”
“[It’s still] inappropriate to request a specific number of citations from our members,” he said of the message’s content.
The Sentinel reported that Thomas has served with FHP for 30 years and will finish his duties Sept. 1.
Thomas’s resignation is also the second relating to traffic tickets that the FHP has experienced this month.
Maj. Mark Welch of Tallahassee’s Troop H resigned after he told troopers they were not writing enough tickets.
The Tampa Bay Times reported that Welch told troopers under his command in an email that “the patrol wants to see two citations each hour.”
Welch added that the number was not a quota, but the reports resulted in Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) publicly rebuking him.
Bondi called Welch’s message “reckless” and “stupid” while meeting top officials in the FHP and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, and he resigned hours later.
Thomas noted in his own letter the FHP, which has been struggling with filling job vacancies, does not receive money from the tickets it writes.
The law officer also argued that no trooper had been disciplined or threatened owing to the amount of tickets written.
Thomas admitted, however, that he personally feels it is “detrimental” to call goals for the FHP a “quota.”