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Homemade 'Speed Trap Ahead' sign in Clay County sparks debate online

The Facebook post garnered thousands of comments, some accusing the sheriff of infringing on free speech.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Facebook post made by Clay County Sheriff Michelle Cook ignited a social media firestorm this week after a picture was shared showing three deputies posing with a homemade sign that reads "Speed Trap Ahead." 

If you left the message on the side of the highway in Keystone warning others of the speed trap, as Bill Engvall would say, here's your sign.

The message was reportedly displayed on CR 214.

"To the 'very helpful' citizen off of CR 214 in Keystone…, we found your sign. Give me a call, and I’ll return it to you," posted Cook.

The post garnered thousands of comments, some accusing the sheriff of infringing on free speech.

"Sheriff Cook, as a (sic) supported of Law Enforcement, I am glad y'all are getting dragged for this one. Taking the sign down was Unconstitutional," commented James Allen.

Credit: Facebook photo provided by Sheriff Michelle Cook.
Facebook photo provided by Sheriff Michelle Cook.

However, Cook says the sign wasn't actually taken down and that the photo was posted because she thought it was funny.

"Thought the sign and attached pinwheels were hilarious," commented Cook in another comment thread. "And I’m good with people knowing where we are at - which is why I posted our location. At the end of the day, it’s about people driving safely and being responsive to the over 350 traffic complaints we get yearly in our community."

Spike Cohen, 2020 Libertarian Vice President candidate, commented on the post as well. 

"'Pirates ahead' would've been more accurate, but whatever it takes to help people to be able to get where they're going without being extorted. After all, if the point is safety, and not just taking money from people, then wouldn't you be happy about someone warning drivers to slow down?"

The comment got over 7,000 likes.

Fraternal Order of Police Jacksonville, FL Lodge 5-30 reshared the post with the following caption:

"The comments are hilarious. We will share a secret with you all (please don’t tell anyone), if you drive the speed limit they can’t write you a speeding ticket. We will probably be in trouble now with Sheriff Cook for letting the cat out of the bag but we think she will understand.  We hope you have that sign hanging in your office now Sheriff."

In 2013, the state made it legal to flash headlights to warn oncoming drivers that police are lurking on the roadside ahead. However, it's unclear if physical signs are also looped into that law and how it plays into local county ordinances.

First Coast News has reached out to Clay County Sheriff's Office for a comment.

To the “very helpful” citizen off of CR 214 in Keystone…,we found your sign 🤣. Give me a call and I’ll return it to you!!! #slowdown #speedtrap #Wegotyoursign

Posted by Sheriff Michelle Cook on Tuesday, May 17, 2022

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