Sit Down, Waldo: City Council Disbands Police Over Speed Trap Rep

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon
sit down waldo city council disbands police over speed trap rep

The city council of Waldo, Fla. — population 1,000 — sternly told its police department to take a seat in the shame bus, disbanding the force after its chief and interim chief both resigned amid an investigation into the town’s reputation as a speed trap.

Associated Press reports the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office will take up where the Waldo Police Department failed, while AAA will consider taking down billboards warning motorists of the speed trap awaiting them.

The path to disbanding began in August, when Chief Mike Szabo was suspended during a probe into allegations of ticket quotas. The same allegations would later take down interim chief Corporal Kenneth Smith a couple of weeks later, with both resigning soon after.

The police force was a cash machine for the city budget, providing half of the $1 million spent annually in Waldo; last year alone, 12,000 tickets between seven officers produced $400,000 in revenue.

Though the country sheriff will oversee law enforcement in the near-term, residents believe speeders and criminals will have carte blanche over Waldo. That said, the residents have recently asked the state government to post a single speed limit for their city; currently, there are six within the two square miles Waldo occupies.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Suto Suto on Oct 10, 2014

    I'm always happy and surprised when things like this happen. Here in northern Ohio we had a small town called Linnadale that had a half mile or so of highway that generated most of their revenue. The state cracked down on them recently. What needs to happen is for the money the police collect from us ( traffic tickets, civil asset forfeitures) go to a place that doesn't benefit the police, or the city they work for or live in. The incentive for police to collect money needs to be removed, so the motive for traffic stops becomes safety, not profit.

    • See 5 previous
    • VCplayer VCplayer on Oct 11, 2014

      @highdesertcat Well given how often different parts of California are thinking about secession, I think the odds are better than you're giving! Seriously though, California just has high taxes in general, and that includes the "tariff for moving around at reasonable speeds."

  • NoGoYo NoGoYo on Oct 10, 2014

    Around here, we have our own massive speed trap...a HUGE down-hill with a 25 mph speed limit...that comes right after a 55 mph speed limit. About the only rational guess to why this setup even exists is to keep big rigs from barreling into the tight streets of the town below, but's a real brake-burner.

  • Johnny Canada Johnny Canada on Oct 10, 2014

    Don't worry, they'll be welcomed in Summersville West Virginia.

  • TybeeJim TybeeJim on Oct 13, 2014

    About 7 years ago, I got a ticket in Lawtey just as they had acquired their new laser gun. The ticket was for 1 mph over the limit. It was probably of no consequence that I was driving my brand new Porsche Cayman S? As for the rest of the south, in Georgia, local cops are supposed to be barred from writing a ticket using radar/laser unless you are going 11 mph over the limit (excluding active school zones). This was done after one of GA's governors (Lester Maddox?) shut down the infamous Ludowici speed trap, also on Rt 301.