Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Charles Swindle was terminated from FHP in March for a ticket that he wrote in Nov.2012 to state lawmaker Charles McBurney, a state representative from Jacksonville.
McBurney had been reportedly been traveling through Madison County at a high rate of speed when he was pulled over by Swindle. Swindle said that he would cut McBurney a break and write a $10 ticket for failure to show proof of insurance instead of the $280 ticket that McBurney would have normally have gotten for doing 87 in a 70 mile per hour zone.
Swindle’s attorney Sid Matthew said that Swindle had spoken with his sergeant Gary Dawson about doing this before he did it and Dawson told him to go ahead. Matthew said that Dawson is also prepared
to testify in court on the matter.
Matthew pointed out that Swindle was following a policy in FHP not to ticket legislators.
“How can you be fired for following a policy?” Matthew asked.
Matthew said that the unspoken policy he is referring to is something that is taught to the troopers at the FHP Academy.
The letter firing Swindle for “conduct unbecoming an officer” says that Swindle wrote the $10 ticket to McBurney in spite of not asking for the insurance information.
Matthew said that he believes McBurney went home and wrote the letter to the FHP on official stationery. He said McBurney was upset because he didn’t think he deserved a ticket at all.
Swindle and Matthew are appealing the firing and Swindle is seeking to be reinstated.
The date for the hearing on the appeal is set for April 29.