Waldo, FL has been a speedtrap for the fifty-odd years I’ve been knocking around the Sunshine State. Its main drags, U.S. 301 and State Road 24, have six different speed limits within the 2.15 square land miles of the city. The Waldo Police Department wrote over 12,000 tickets last year, which translated to about a third of the city’s revenue. Surprised the police were replaced with the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office this week? Well, I kinda am.
This terrifying little town has uncaringly hammered travelers for decades. Nothing changed. AAA had officially rated Waldo as speedtrap for years. They didn’t care. The Media had been at the Gates regularly. Ho hum. See what I mean? It took two different FDLE investigations, two failed Chiefs, and five Waldo officers’ complaints about illegal ticket quotas to finally sink the police department.
Although I had been aware of Waldo’s notorious reputation, I have driven through the gauntlet several times over the last few years. I was paranoid each and every time. And I’m a cop. I get that traffic education and enforcement is necessary on our roadways; I have engaged in this pursuit when needed. But I draw the line at blatant revenue steam enhancements that institutionally ignore public safety. Don’t get me started about red light cameras.
I am not shedding a tear that this black eye to legitimate law enforcement has been shuttered. The 1,012 persons who live in Waldo should be ashamed of their elected officials and even themselves for letting this highway robbery continue. Do I sound professionally offended by this unwarranted badgeassery? You bet. Good riddance.