Fla. town hailed as king of the speed traps under investigation

By VICENTE ARENASCBS NEWSSeptember 3, 2014, 8:14 PM

WALDO, Fla. – Two of the country’s worst speed traps, according to AAA, are on a 20-mile road that runs through this North Florida town.

It’s so bad an auto group posted a billboard warning of the rapid changes in speed limit.

arenas03.jpgLast year, Waldo, Florida’s seven police officers wrote nearly 12,000 tickets.


“They’re just waiting to catch people because they have to write so many tickets in order to meet the budget and that’s wrong,” said Pat Burgess, who lives in Waldo, a town of 1,000 people and one stop light.

Waldo’s seven police officers wrote nearly 12,000 speeding tickets last year, collecting more than $400,000 in fines – a third of the town’s revenue.

The problem is there are six different speed limits in just a couple of miles. Drivers enter the city at 65 miles per hour. It then drops to 55, 45 and then 35.

Florida is now investigating whether the Waldo Police Department violated state law banning ticket quotas.

Asked if the situation “rings well” with him, Gordon Smith, the sheriff in neighboring Bradford County, said: “It doesn’t because you’re creating this cash cow. Where there’s cash register justice.”

Smith was put in charge of the police department in Hampton, just nine miles down State Highway 301, after the city’s police department was disbanded this year. Several town officials are suspected of stealing some of the money raised by fines.

“That’s legalized robbery,” Smith said. “And we shouldn’t be doing that.”

The Waldo investigation began after police officers there filed complaints. Waldo’s mayor declined to speak to us. But a spokesperson told CBS News Waldo’s police department will also be taken over by a county sheriff’s deputy for the next 30 days.

Another sign of change? The town has asked the state to post just one speed limit here.

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