by: Amanda Warford Updated:WALDO, Fla. —
Waldo, Florida barely spans two square miles, but the tiny town has a big reputation.
"Everybody I tell that I live in Waldo, they just get big eyes and say, 'Wow, you better not drive fast,'" said Dennis Floyd.
On the short drive through town, Action News found the speed limit changes eight times along U.S. 301 and State Road 24. Waldo is one of only two AAA-designated "traffic traps" in the country, the other being Lawtey, a town just miles away. AAA said the goal in Waldo is revenue, not safety.
Longtime resident Floyd agrees. Every day from his yard, he watches police write ticket after ticket.
"I can sit out there, at any time during the day, and I'll watch officers write no less than five drivers. Some of them are only going a mile over the limit. I actually do five miles an hour under the speed limit."
Those tickets add up, generating a reported 46 percent of Waldo's $1 million budget last year. Now, police officers say they were forced to write them by them Police Chief Mike Szabo. Szabo was suspended by the city earlier this month for violating police policy and is now under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement for reasons that have not been confirmed.
This week, five of the town's six officers went before the Waldo City Council and also accused Szabo of requiring them to write 12 speeding tickets every 12 hour-shift, and if they didn't, they said, they were denied days off. Officers also accused Szabo of using city-owned surveillance equipment to monitor his apartment complex, and said he stored seized drug paraphernalia in a cooler under his desk.
Folks like Floyd are outraged at the accusations, and hope the city will step in and investigate the new allegations.
"Something needs to be done, especially about all the tickets that are being written," Floyd said. "I think it's bull crap to be honest with you."
City Manager Kim Worley sent this statement to Action News:
"The city takes these allegations very seriously, and we are working with our counsel to determine the best course of action."
The FDLE also would not comment on their active investigation or if they have been asked to investigate these new claims.
Szabo could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
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