Notorious Florida speed trap ended as city closes police department

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 01, 2014 11:42 AM

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - A 50-year-old nationally recognized speed trap in north central Florida came to an end as of midnight Wednesday after the city of Waldo voted to disband its police department.

The Waldo city council turned over law enforcement duties Wednesday morning to the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, according to sheriff spokeswoman Becky Butscher.

The council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to disband its police force after member Carolyn Wade reported that the local prosecutor led her to believe a grand jury would be convened to investigate the police department if it continued to operate and the results would be humiliating for the city, according to the Gainesville Sun.

The National Motorists Association in 2012 ranked Waldo third on its listing of "Worst Speed Trap Cities" in North America in the under 50,000 population category.

Waldo’s police chief and a top-ranking officer had been suspended since August when five officers complained to the city council that they worked under a quota to issue 12 traffic tickets per 12-hour shift.

Two investigations of the department currently are being conducted by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Sun reported.

Butscher said the sheriff’s office had provided the town a temporary police chief for one month but refused to extend the agreement past Oct. 3.

Butscher said the department is considering hiring another deputy or two for the part of the county that includes Waldo. She said Waldo typically had one or two officers on duty at any given time.

(Editing by David Adams and Bill Trott)