The LAPD officers who settled a lawsuit this week with the City of Los Angeles over illegal traffic ticket quotas said Friday the quotas had distracted them from stopping drivers doing dangerous things – like texting and driving.

The quotas imposed at the West Traffic Division in West Los Angeles not only required officers to write at least 18 tickets each day, but also required 80-percent of the tickets be written from an arbitrary list of the most expensive violations, called the, “major movers,” list.

“This whole arbitrary number of 18 basically made these motor officers less effective than they had ever been,” said civil attorney Matthew McNicholas, who represented the officers in the lawsuit.

The officers said they routinely ignored someone texting on a cellphone or jaywalking – both blamed for many injuries and deaths – because those violations were not on the major movers list.

McNicholas said the City settled the case before depositions were completed, so he never heard clear answers from LAPD commanders about why the quotas were imposed in the first place.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said in a statement he was disappointed the civil case had cost taxpayers so much money, and said the officers had simply been given productivity goals rather than quotas.

-- Eric Leonard