• ETC
  • Mar 12, 2014
A tiny Florida town is in trouble with the state, after its police department wrote a whopping 12,698 speeding tickets despite holding jurisdiction over just 1,260 feet of road. Yes, feet, not yards, miles or kilometers.

The New York Times has the story of Hampton, FL, the town of 477 that's in the crosshairs of the state after taking in $419,624 in fines between 2011 and 2012, yet still ending each year with a big ole minus sign in the city ledger.

"This town has struggled financially for years and years," said Jim Mitzel, the 50-year-old former mayor of the town. "But once we got [Route] 301, our chief went crazy." The town annexed the heavily patrolled route in the 1990s, installing a speed trap that dropped suddenly from 65 to 55 miles per hour. Naturally, the town makes an appearance on AAA's list of speed traps.

There have been allegations of misappropriation of city funds, improper use of city credit cards and other forms of corruption. Of course, there are accusations of nepotism, as well, with one family that's employed by the city extorting others thanks to the city's control of water.

According to the Times, the town's police force increased from one to 17, with the county sheriff saying he was unsure if any of the new "officers" had training on radar guns. "The last couple of years were the worst," Mitzel said. "[The police] went after people like fresh meat. They pulled out in front of semis." A particularly popular target were fans of the Florida Gators, who traversed Route 301 through Hampton when traveling between Jacksonville and Gainesville for football games.

"I have said it before: It's something out of a Southern Gothic novel. You can't make this stuff up," State Senator Rob Bradley, who represents Hampton, told the Times. "This situation went on for so long and the mismanagement was so deep, we have to seriously consider abolishing the government."

Unless the citizens can come up with a solution to the town's deep-seated problems with 30 days, dissolution looks to be the Hampton's final fate. Regardless of what's chosen, you'd probably be best to avoid this rural Florida town for the time being.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 90 Comments
      h-man
      • 9 Months Ago
      As a former cop I will tell you that nearly all vehicles are driving over the limit. Traffic stops were something we would do during the rare occasions when not rushing from call to call. I would only pull over cars traveling 10+ mph over the limit. 90% of my stops were ticket free, just warnings along with checks for warrants, expired/revoked licenses, expired license or registration. Of course there was always a few co-workers with ego trips and were d***s to everyone they stopped. Those guys are d***s in real life too. This FL town is obviously abusive and every law enforcement officer up the chain should lose their jobs. Being Police isn't about writing tickets, it is about serving and protecting our society.
        CycleGolf
        • 9 Months Ago
        @h-man
        It's sucks that you are a former cop, h-man.
        jtav2002
        • 9 Months Ago
        @h-man
        Your second paragraph pretty much sums up what I always think when people just assume all cops are bad when in reality most aren't. I always say hey, there are alot of doucebags in this world, some of them just happen to become cops.
      d
      • 9 Months Ago
      The cops in my town stopped 8700 cars last year. That is 23 cars per day. They wrote almost $750k in traffic fines. You need any more proof the police are out of control. Total violent crimes, including burglary, for 2013..... 22.
        SloopJohnB
        • 9 Months Ago
        @d
        And what have YOU done about it?
        jtav2002
        • 9 Months Ago
        @d
        Not to excuse excessive issuance of fines but it's not right, but I'd imagine a lot of that being due to the fact you have no other crime. I'd guess that if you looked at areas with lots of serious crimes, traffic citations per number of citizens would be astronomically lower.
      RobG
      • 9 Months Ago
      It's high time a stop was put to this. I say make it illegal for ticket revenue to be used by local governments. Make it go into the state highway fund or something. If you take the money out of tickets, the tickets will stop happening. Example.. let's say you did that only for speeding tickets. Then I guarantee you the local gov't start writing OTHER kinds of tickets instead. I say take all revenue out of it entirely; no matter what the "topic" it will done for the revenue, not for traffic safety.
      Wrath of Kwon
      • 9 Months Ago
      Gonna need to look at the police force's pension plan, while you're at it.
      SloopJohnB
      • 9 Months Ago
      State police need to arrest all 17 officers, the mayor, and the controller. Charges of corruption and mismanagement to follow. It's been done in GA as well.
        hy8r1d
        • 9 Months Ago
        @SloopJohnB
        The former mayor is currently in jail on oxycodone charges. He was replaced by a female mayor who says the town should be saved.
      superchan7
      • 9 Months Ago
      While the rest of us in civilization look in amusement, the residents and passers-by of these rogue towns are victims of some form of terror and abuse, third-world style.
      Master Austin
      • 9 Months Ago
      I would say remove the cities charter, so they are no longer an incorporated town...not the first time that happens in FL. Thats how you take care of the issue. As it is, a small town of just 477 should NOT even be incorporated as a city to begin with. And THIS I know quite a bit about.
      Jason
      • 9 Months Ago
      Did the commissioner happen to wear a white suit and gallon hat?
      JaredN
      • 9 Months Ago
      It is long past time that law enforcement officers return to being peace officers instead of mobile revenue officers. Speed traps are but the tip of the iceberg. Asset forfeiture laws have greatly increased the abuse of our civil rights.
      mhart27
      • 9 Months Ago
      Sounds familiar. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Rome,_Ohio
      carguy1701
      • 9 Months Ago
      Sounds like that Ohio speed trap town.
        jfa1177
        • 9 Months Ago
        @carguy1701
        that would be Lindale; a suburb of Cleveland.
      Trace
      • 9 Months Ago
      I've commuted through this town daily for over 7 years now, everything being reported is spot on true. I'll be travelling through there in about 30 minutes. One town down and two to go. Now they need to get rid of Lawtey and Waldo, FL. Both operate the exact same way. I'd bet that Waldo has more police and police vehicles per capita than any other town in FL if not the entire US.
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