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Trooper Testimony: Giving Lawmakers A Break On Tickets Is 'Common Practice'

By: Mike Vasilinda Email
By: Mike Vasilinda Email

By: Mike Vasilinda
May 29, 2013

A State Trooper who was fired for giving a state lawmaker a break is fighting for his job today. Trooper Charles Swindle was dismissed after writing a ten dollar ticket instead of a two hundred and fifty dollar ticket. The trooper today testified giving lawmakers a break is common practice.

A routine traffic stop on I-10 cost Trooper Charles Swindel his job. Behind the wheel, Jacksonville lawmaker Charles McBurney.

Once the Trooper determined McBurney was a legislator, he decided to cut him a break. The dashboard cam even records the trooper clearing the deal with his Sergeant.

Voice of Charles Swindle: “I’ll write him a warning to be nice”

Voice of a Sergeant: “Alright”

Voice of Charles Swindle: “I’m going to charge him because I didn’t see his insurance card. I’ll give him that ticket.”

Legislator McBurney accepted the tickets on the side of the road then complained to the top trooper. “I simply wrote the letter to let the Florida Highway Patrol know that I felt that was inappropriate.”, says Rep. McBurney, R-Jacksonville.

Wednesday, the six year FHP veteran was on the witness stand fighting for his job back. Under oath he testified there was an unwritten rule to give lawmakers breaks.

When Swindle was asked what the policy was, he responded “we’re always told to be lenient on legislators.”

His attorney produced a long list of legislators who speed was reduced or who were cited for not having insurance.

The trooper isn’t being fired for letting a lawmaker go; he’s being fired for falsifying the charge.

Reporter: “You couldn’t let him go for speeding that’s his discretion.”

Sandra Coulter, FHP Attorney: “But he issued citations for traffic offenses that drivers did not commit.”

And we asked Swindle what he was fighting so hard to get his job back, he answered to “to clear my name.”

Reporter: “You feel you haven’t done anything wrong.”

Charles Swindle: “No, Sir.”


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