By Mike Vasilinda
July 1, 2013
As millions take to the highways this holiday weekend, one state trooper will be home, wishing he was working. Charles Swindle was told he was being fired for going easy on a state lawmaker. Now he’s waiting to see if he will get his job back.
In video from last November, State Trooper Charles Swindle is seen ticketing two state lawmakers. Not a 251 dollar ticket for doing 87 in a 70, but a ten dollar ticket for not having proof of insurance. He cleared the deal with his supervisor. “I’ll write him a warning and be nice,” Swindle tells his supervisor on the dash cam. “Alright” says the supervisor. “I’m going to charge him because I didn’t see his insurance card.” Swindle states.
Both lawmakers paid the ten dollar ticket, but Rep. Charles McBurney of Jacksonville complained. Swindle was fired. Following a hearing with the Public Employees Relations Commission, a hearing officer recommended that Swindle get his job back. “I was worried that I would get fired if I, you know, wrote him a big speeding ticket. I could have just let him go with a warning. The whole unwritten policy to where you know, leniency on legislators, I never really agreed with it,” says Swindle
But the Patrol has challenged the reinstatement. Three hearing officers have until late July to rule. One of them, Mike Hogan is a former lawmaker from McBurney’s hometown of Jacksonville. The reason there is an unwritten policy about ticketing lawmakers is because they have total control over the patrol’s budget. Those same lawmakers also have total control over the funding for the commission that will decide Charles Swindle’s fate. Attorney said Matthew hopes the funding doesn’t play into the decision. “I’m not concerned about Perk doing the right thing, and no being persuaded by extra political considerations, including whether the legislatures is going to cut their budget,” says Sid Matthew, Swindle’s Attorney
Other troopers have given the same ticket to lawmakers, Swindle was the only one that was ever fired.