I know you came here today looking for answers about the Randy Oliver separation agreement that’s on Tuesday’s county commission meeting agenda.
I’ll tell you what I’ve been telling editors for 30 years: These things can take time. I’m almost there. But not yet.
So we’ll leave that aside for the moment and instead clear up something that was discussed Monday during the excitement (ha!) over the Suncoast Parkway opening.
Some Just Wright Citrus readers made comments that the Florida Highway Patrol has sole jurisdiction on toll roads, suggesting the Citrus County Sheriff’s office cannot patrol the parkway or enforce traffic laws on the Suncoast.
I thought that sounded off so I sent this email to the sheriff’s office:
“Good afternoon. A few people have commented to me that the sheriff's office has no patrol jurisdiction on the Suncoast Parkway, that it's FHP domain only on toll roads. I've never heard such a thing. Any truth to that?”
This is the response from spokeswoman Brittney Carman:
“No, that is absolutely not the truth – you are correct in your thoughts. CCSO has complete jurisdiction anywhere in Citrus County, including the Suncoast Parkway. Our deputies can patrol and conduct enforcement, however, traffic accidents will be handled by FHP – our office, of course, would respond to render aid, etc. if we are the nearest unit available.”
So there you have it.
But of course I couldn’t just let it end there. I started thinking about FHP and the parkway, wondering whether it’s a high-speed area or not. I knew one person who would have those answers.
None other than retired FHP Master Trooper Tod Cloud, who retired last year after 21 years on the job and now is a candidate for the state House.
Cloud lives in Homosassa and was well known for driving his black FHP vehicle, giving out traffic citations with a polite smile. If anyone could make you feel better while getting a $250 speeding ticket it was Trooper Tod.
He explained the set up.
FHP has a Troop K composed of officers whose job is to patrol the turnpike and other toll roads. But that doesn’t mean troopers from other units, or local police, can’t patrol toll roads as well.
He likened it to a city having its own police department. The city cops stay in the city for patrol, but the city borders don’t shut out deputies and other officers. See the difference?
I asked Tod whether it’s a high-speed parkway, especially north of State Road 50 in Hernando County when the traffic really thins out. He said speeding is worse on the south end, where the parkway becomes the Veterans Expressway and the speed limit drops from 70 mph to 60.
(I know exactly where he’s talking about. And I always, ahem, drop my speed to 60.)
He also said something that we all need to take to heart. Tod said he was happy he retired before the parkway opened because expressways are so dangerous to FHP officers who are trying to do their jobs with traffic flying by at high speeds.
So there you go for this Thursday. No deep thinking today, thank goodness. Let’s just enjoy our new parkway and do so safely.
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Mike Wright has written about Citrus County government and politics for 36 years.