Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Where's Waldo?

Florida city is infamous for traffic citations.

The state of idiocy has once again gotten some negative attention. A small city about 65 miles from Jacksonville is under fire for being a notorious speed trap and the police are taking advantage of the motorists.

The city has speed limit in urban areas 35 but it jumps from 45 to 55 and lowers down again numerous times. It's among the controversies that merits the Florida State Attorney to investigate the quotas.

Florida cities such as Tampa, Orlando, Ft. Walton Beach, Pensacola, Jacksonville, Miami, West Palm Beach, Lake City and Naples have traffic cameras at certain intersections. Some other cities require officers to be in a heavy traveled area where it's known for potential accidents.

The city of Waldo requires drivers to speed up and slow down six times: 65mph becomes 55mph; 55 becomes 45; then goes back to 55; then back down to 45; to 55 again; and, eventually, 35mph. AAA has named it one of only two "traffic traps" nationwide. Now Waldo faces a scandal following allegations that the town victimizes motorists to turn a profit. Two police chiefs have been suspended, the police department has rebelled, and the state is investigating possible wrongdoing. The situation simmered for years until last month, when Chief Mike Szabo was suspended, apparently in response to a Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigation into suspected improprieties in the way officers write tickets.

Weeks later at a Waldo City Council meeting, a group of police officers said they had been ordered by Szabo to write at least 12 tickets per 12-hour shift or face repercussions. In 2013, Waldo's seven police officers filed 11,603 traffic citations, according to records obtained by the Gainesville Sun. That compares with 25,461 citations in 2013 for much larger Gainesville, which has 300 officers and 128,000 residents, including thousands of college students. The fines paid by motorists are a big moneymaker. According to the city's 2013 budget, about half of its $1 million in revenue came from "court fines" from tickets issued. The State Attorney's Office in Alachua County says it's waiting for the FDLE to finish its investigation of ticket quotas and other wrongdoing before deciding whether to file charges.

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