MINNEOLA -- Speeders, beware.
For the first time, this growing city will have an officer patrolling neighborhoods and major intersections on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
The motorcycle officer's mission? Ticket speeders.
"We consistently have issues with people driving too fast," Mayor David Yeager said.
South Street, Old Highway 50 and Washington Street have been especially problematic, with vehicles traveling up to 30 mph over the speed limit, the mayor said. So far, the city hasn't seen a rash of fatal accidents, and officials want to keep it that way, Yeager said.
Yeager said the traffic officer will make city roads safer.
The mayor has been pressing for a motorcycle cop for years. Minneola does not have its own police department and depends on the Lake County Sheriffs' Office for public safety through a shared agreement.
Yeager said former Lake County sheriffs George Knupp and Chris Daniels didn't think Minneola needed a special deputy to patrol the city's traffic.
But Sheriff Gary Borders said he will train a deputy to patrol the streets of Minneola, and the city purchased a Harley-Davidson. The $30,000 cost came from money collected from drug seizures and other sources, officials said.
The mayor said that drivers can expect to see the deputy around the city next week.
"If you see the motorcycle, you know exactly what he's doing and it's not gardening," Yeager said.
Minneola's new motorcycle cop comes at a time when Clermont recently purchased two 2007 Harley-Davidson Road Kings. Police Chief Steve Graham said the bikes, budgeted for about $40,000 plus equipment, will help the department navigate traffic better.
Motorcycles are more fuel-efficient than police cars, Graham said. Also, the vehicles are less visible and make it easier to catch speeders. The intersection of Fifth Street and State Road 50 is among the worst for traffic violations.
"In a community that's growing such as ours, traffic is probably the major complaint that I receive," Graham said.
Nin-Hai Tseng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-742-5919.