(Florida Highway Patrol photo)
A police officer in Florida has been told he's out of a job for not writing a lawmaker a speeding ticket last November. Florida Highway Patrol trooper Charles Swindle stopped Representative Charles McBurney, from Jacksonville, last November after he clocked the lawmaker going 87mph in a 70mph zone.
At the time, McBurney was driving a vehicle with a special license plate which identified his being in public office, and the trooper decided to cut him a break. However, the situation bothered McBurney so much that he decided to write the troopers superiors using a letter bearing the state seal and identifying himself as a lawmaker.
McBurney indicated in the letter that the trooper acted in such a way that could undermine the public's faith in law enforcement and show bias towards officials that have a role in setting the budget of the Florida Highway Patrol. That letter spawned an internal investigation, and two weeks ago, Trooper Swindle was fired for his role. The Highway Patrol cited conduct "unbecoming of a public employee" in his dismissal, and now the trooper is appealing, saying that it's understood that officers let lawmakers go easy to avoid the spotlight when it comes time to set the budget of the FHP.
While it is seemingly always a discretionary decision whether or not a police officer eventually cites a driver for breaking a law, in this case, involving a lawmaker, there are many surprised at McBurney's openness and agree that the integrity of the FHP is far more important. One must ask why the State of Florida even offers lawmakers plates bearing special symbols- for without that- this case may never have happened.