A small Florida city known as one of the worst speed traps in the country is disbanding its police force, amid an ongoing series of legal problems facing the city.
For nearly 50 years the north-central Florida community of Waldo has been known mostly as a speed trap, according to MSN, and in 2012 was ranked the 3rd worst speed trap in the country by the National Motorists Association.
Along a two-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 301 through Waldo, the speed limit changes six times, according to the Tampa Tribune. Roughly half of the town’s $1 million annual budget came from speeding tickets.
Earlier this year, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement began an investigation into improprieties in the town’s police force. On August 12, Waldo police chief Mike Szabo was suspended, apparently in response to the investigation. Two weeks later at a Waldo city council meeting, according to the Tampa Tribune, several officers told the crowd that they were required by Szabo to write at least 12 traffic tickets per 12-hour shift; traffic ticket quotas are illegal under Florida law.
An interim police chief, Cpl. Kenneth Smith, was hired to replace Szabo. He fared no better, as officers leveled allegations that Smith mishandled evidence, among other allegations. The officers who leveled the allegations have since sought protection under the Florida Whistleblower Act, claiming that city manager Kim Worley failed to investigate their complaints, forcing them to go public.
At a city council meeting Tuesday night, the Waldo government voted to officially disband its police force by a 4-1 vote, according to the Tampa Tribune. Five police officers and a handful of other police department employees will be placed on paid administrative leave until October 31. Law enforcement in Waldo will be turned over to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.
The situation in Waldo bears striking similarities to another Florida town that has been in the news recently. The Florida community of Hampton, according this Inquisitr report, was also a notoriously corrupt speed trap. The situation in Hampton was so bad that the town was threatened with being dissolved completely.
The news that the speed trap is being dissolved is welcome for the town’s residents and visitors who have been victimized by the overzealous police force. Longtime Waldo resident Mike Barrs told the Tampa Tribune that Waldo police have pulled him over probably 20 times in his life.
“I’m glad they’re doing something about it. If I had a light out on my trailer they’ll pull me over for that, for anything.”
Have you ever gotten a ticket in Waldo, or any of the country’s other speed-trap towns? Let us know below.