JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Florida Highway Patrol is under fire from one of its own. A former trooper claims the agency turns a blind eye to state lawmakers caught breaking the law.
Trooper Charles Swindle stopped Rep. Charles McBurney, of Jacksonville, in November for speeding on I-10.
Action News obtained a letter the Jacksonville lawmaker wrote FHP alleging Swindle acted unprofessionally and told him "I could pay a speeding fine of $250 or I could pay a fine for no proof of insurance for $10, my choice."
McBurney was able to provide proof of insurance but he was still cited for failure to do so.
Action News went straight to local Sgt. Dylan Bryan about Swindle’s claim of an unspoken policy.
“Absolutely not,” said Bryan. “Our officers are trained at the Florida Highway Patrol Training Academy. They educate and enforce the traffic rules of our state regardless of the employment of the violator."
FHP fired Swindle March 15. The agency claims he "circumvented the legal process...and falsely accused the motorists of offenses they did not commit."
In his appeal, Swindle claims that FHP troopers are told to cut members of the legislature a break.
"I've been with our agency for a little more than 12 years now. I've never heard of such a rule or even a policy for that matter,” said Bryan.
Sgt. Bryan says troopers can use their own discretion when issuing a citation versus a warning. But law enforcement should be blind to citizen status. “We need the confidence of the public who we serve day in and day out.”