Four officers in the Waldo Police Department revealed to the city council last Tuesday that the department’s chief was assigning required quotas for writing tickets. The information was brought forth while discussing other complaints about activities in the department.
Quotas are illegal according to Florida state law.
Officer Brandon Roberts explained to city council members that Chief Mike Szabo ordered the officers in the department to write 12 tickets in a 12-hour work shift in order to keep their jobs. Roberts used printed emails from Szabo to validate his claims.
One such email read “Looks like you have some work to do when you come in,” written by Szabo to an officer who had issued four speeding tickets.
“We’re doing this with a heavy heart,” said Roberts. “We would never want to go against our fellow officers but we have no faith in our chain of command.”
“It’s very stressful driving through there. I mean you’re always- they’ll pull you over for anything,” said Cheryl Griffis, a Waldo resident.
In a poll conducted by the National Motorists Association regarding the worst speed traps in the country, the town of Waldo ranks third. Waldo is home to about 1,000 people.
According to Waldo documents, about half of the town’s $1 million budget relies on “police revenue”. The American Automobile Association (AAA) classified Waldo as a “traffic trap” that uses “unfair, unethical or illegal law enforcement tactics or traffic control devices.”
Waldo city manager Kim Worley suspended Szabo on August 12th after the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated “an alleged violation of police procedure”. It is unclear if that investigation is related to the allegations from Roberts and the other officers as city officials have been disclosing little information, but a document from Worley stated that an investigation is underway.