The small town of Waldo, Florida only has seven police officers, but they are evidently very busy. Last year they collected nearly 12,000 speeding citations worth almost $400,000 in court fines, about a third of the town's revenue. Now, in the midst of a scandal, state officials are investigating whether the town broke the law.
CBS News reports that Waldo, a town of just 1,000 people, has but one stoplight. It also has six different speed limits in a handful of miles, dropping from 65 mph to 55, then 45, then 35. The situation has resulted in not only a massive amount of tickets, but also AAA posting a billboard on U.S. 301 outside Waldo warning of the speed traps.
(By comparison, much larger Gainesville has 300 officers and 128,000 residents, and last year its force wrote 25,461 citations. And while the state sets speed limits, it does so with input from the locals.)
The problem is, Florida has a law banning ticket quotas, which is what sparked an investigation by the state's Department of Law Enforcement.
Who blew the whistle on the speed traps? Believe it or not, the police in Waldo themselves. The Associated Press reports that officers complained to the city council that they were ordered to write at least 12 tickets per 12-hour shift "or face repercussions."
The officers then filed a complaint with the Florida Inspector General's Office, claiming the city manager refused to conduct an investigation into the quotas. The police chief and his successor were both suspended in August, and both could potentially face charges.
In the meantime, a commander from the county sheriff's office has been asked to take the reins of the department. I say kudos to these officers for slamming the brakes on a practice that may have violated the law.
Just to be safe, though, do not speed in Waldo, Florida.