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Florida police chief suspended from ticket-writing scandal

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A tiny Florida town located between Jacksonville and Gainesville with a national reputation as a speed trap is under fire for a ticket-writing scandal, after police said they were ordered by their chief to write 12 tickets per 12-hour shift, or face punishment.

Waldo City Council suspended two police supervisors, Cpt. Kenneth Smith and Police Chief Mike Szabo, after learning of the allegations, The Associated Press reported.

Mr. Szabo was the chief accused by police of ordering the traffic ticket quotas. After he was suspended, Mr. Smith was put into his position — but then officers complained he mishandled evidence, AP reported. The City Council then suspended Mr. Smith.

Waldo has long held a reputation as a massive speed trap. In one small portion of the highway that runs through Waldo, the speed limit starts at 65 miles per hour, then drops to 55, then falls to 45, then goes back to 55, then back down to 45, then to 55 again and finally, to 35, AP reported.

AAA labels the town as one of only two around the nation known as pure "traffic traps," AP reported. The group even took out ad space on a billboard leading into town to warn motorists of the potential for tickets.

In 2013, the seven-member police force in Waldo issued 11,603 traffic citations, the Gainesville Sun reported.

Gainesville, meanwhile, with its 300 officers and 128,000 residents -- many of whom are college students -- only issued 25,461 tickets during that same year. Waldo obtained about half of its $1 million in revenues for 2013 from "court fines" from issued tickets, AP said.

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