And critics say the small town exists solely so that its police force can control a 1,260-foot stretch of highway that they've turned into a speed trap, reaping hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines.
Hampton cops were a fixture out on U.S. 301. They sat on lawn chairs, pointing radar guns at unsuspecting motorists. They hid behind recycling bins. As more and more money came in, they idled in slick SUVs, trolled the median strips in riot gear and toted state-of-the-art firepower. Locals gave one the nickname "Rambo" because he slung an AR-15 rifle across his chest.
According to the audit, the city racked up around two dozen violations, including:
- Failure to track where the ticketing revenue went.
- Lax controls and terrible record-keeping led to one clerk getting overpaid nearly $9,000.
- Misuse of city credit cards: city employees charged more than $27,000 "with no public purpose" and racked up a $132,000 bill at a convenience store next to City Hall.
- Failure to keep records of assigned vehicles for employees.
- Uninsured city police cars.
- City officials admitted other records were "lost in a swamp."
- A crumbling water infrastructure, with nearly half the water supply lost.
Now, the state is taking action. Per CNN:
Sure enough, a criminal investigation is gaining steam. On Friday, Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigators and the Bradford County Sheriff's detectives searched Hampton City Hall. The door of the police chief's office was removed from its hinges as investigators combed the tin-roofed building for documents and other evidence.