Removal Of ASO Traffic Unit Leads To Less Traffic Tickets Being Issued
GAINESVILLE - You may notice a decrease in the number of Alachua County Sheriffs deputies patrol car on the streets and that's because less deputies are on the look out. The Alachua County Sheriff's Office got rid of their Traffic Unit in January of this year, in order to use the 6 deputies in that unit to guard 12 elementary schools in the county after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut; where 20 young children and six school personnel lost their lives.
More than halfway through this year records from the Alachua County Clerk of Courts show the decline in citations. Let's compare some numbers; last year ASO handed out about 16,200 civil traffic citations while this year, they've only given out about 2,800. If the current trend continues ASO will write fewer citations this year than last year. About 11,400 fewer civil citations, 180 fewer DUI's and nearly 750 fewer citations involving other types of crimes.
Art Forgey the spokesperson for the Alachua County Sheriff's Office says that there are other agencies that can enforce traffic laws, lifting some of the weight off their shoulders. "I think that anybody would tell you that our future is on those elementary schools. And i think it's incumbent of us to do everything we can to ensure their safety," Forgey said.
Lori Firm is the grandmother of a 5-year-old kindergartener and while she feels like elementary schools need protection, she also worries about what happens in the streets of her backyard. "Well I kind of have mixed feeling on that. I think our streets should be protected and also our elementary schools... Keeping our school children safe," Firm said.
Forgey says the sheriff's office won't lose a whole lot of money as they make about two dollars for every ticket which goes to their training fund and the rest goes to the county's general fund. The contract between the Alachua County Sheriffs Office and the Alachua County school board was re-signed for the 2013 to 2014 school year meaning the sheriff's office wont get their traffic unit back anytime soon.
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