State Trooper Gets Fired for Letting Lawmaker Get Away with Speeding

State trooper gets fired for "trying to be nice"

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When’s the last time you complained about not getting a speeding ticket? Well, one Florida legislator complained enough to get an officer fired for giving him special treatment.

The Miami Herald reports Rep. Charles McBurney (R-Jacksonville) was driving 87 in a 70 mph zone — a speeding ticket that would have cost $250 — when Trooper Charles Swindle, a six-year veteran of the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), pulled him over.

After noticing Rep. McBurney’s car had a special license plate that identified him as a legislator, Trooper Swindle dispatched his supervisor, Sgt. Gary Dawson, before letting the state lawmaker go with a $110 fine for lacking proof of insurance — which would be reduced to only $10 if Rep. McBurney brought proof of insurance to the county courthouse where the ticket was issued.

Rep. McBurney insists that he wasn’t speeding because his cruise control was set at 75 mph. He claims the trooper hadn’t asked for his insurance, which Rep. McBurney had in his wallet at the time.

(MORETraffic Cop Tells All: How to Avoid Getting a Speeding Ticket)

In a complaint letter to the head of the FHP, Rep. McBurney–who sits on two Appropriation Committees and on the Legislative Budget Commission–wrote: “I am concerned that as Trooper Swindle acted in such a fashion to me that he would do so to any law-abiding citizen of our state.” According to Swindle’s termination letter obtained by the Tampa Bay Times, Swindle was formally dismissed for “conduct unbecoming a public employee,” and a violation of “law and agency rules.” Seeing it justified, McBurney tells local station 106.5 FM,  “I just believe it’s every citizen’s responsibility to keep employees of our government and agencies honest.”

The former trooper says he was just “trying to be nice” and has filed an appeal, claiming that he was following an understood practice of granting leeway to those who essentially dictate their budget. “Basically, an unwritten rule is, if you stop a member of the Legislature, they [FHP] prefer us to give them breaks. It is kind of a double standard,” the trooper’s supervisor, Sgt. Dawson tells Jacksonville.com.

Coincidentally, on the same day Trooper Swindle stopped Rep. McBurney, he also pulled over Rep. Mike Clelland (D-Lake Mary), who he clocked going 87 in a 70 mph zone as well. Rep. Clelland was let off with two citations for no proof of insurance and no car registration, rather than a costlier speeding ticket.

spokesman for FHP denies “any written or unwritten policy that requires [troopers] to treat members of the Legislature any differently than the regular public.”

But this sort of leniency isn’t hard to believe: in New York City, the Police Union issues Courtesy Cards that officers and their family members can flash when they get into minor binds, like traffic or parking violations.

MOREGot Caught Speeding? Your Insurer Might Never Find Out

23 comments
SilasBarnaby
SilasBarnaby

McBurney put those state legislator plates on his vehicle for a reason.  The fact that the state government issues these plates proves they expect preferential treatment.  He's furious that he was stopped, let alone given a $10 ticket.  Hypocrisy at its best.  McBurney, I didn't even know your name until I read this news article.  And I am confident that you sir, are a pure scumbag . 

RebekahMiller
RebekahMiller

This is sad that our state Rep. McBurney showing his true colors. The state trooper was doing as told!  Why should he get fired?  His superior office should get fired.  This to me makes Rep.  McBurney look really bad.  State troopers put their lives on the  line for us every day. Rep McBurney was having a bad day and didn't want to pay a dime.  He feels he is superior!  Now he is covering his actions.  He should humble himself and make sure the young man gets his job back.

LynnReynolds
LynnReynolds

the trooper called his supervisor first, yet he is the only one fired.

what about the rogue sheriffs who are stating that they will not enforce new gun regulations?????  can we keep them honest by firing them?

nesoron
nesoron

@Retributions We need to ' import' this legislator- and junk rogues masquerading as our legislators- into the Arabian sea ! Damn !

souzou_no
souzou_no

@TIME @TIMENewsFeed he was screwed either way and we all know it.if he had given the ticket he would have been a target at future cost cuts.

mbcls
mbcls

speeding law is just a way for governments to ROB you!

I been ticketed three time already on a Sat or Sun morning!  what is wrong with going a little faster when i'm the only one on the freeway?

saladinMY
saladinMY

In Malaysia, lawmakers r strenuous in their effort not to respect speeding laws. They even provide free legal aid! @AdrianNCF @MahfuzOmar

BrianGardner
BrianGardner

So let me get this straight, even though he talked to his supervisor before making a decision the trooper is the one that was fired!? He's getting the short end of the stick! Damned if you do, damned if you don't! This is insane! 

This is not preferential treatment due to being a legislator. I'm not from Florida, but the other day I was pulled over  for going 54 in a 35 back home. I was given just a warning because it was a holiday and I was just trying to get home late at night. I appreciate that because sometimes all people need is a warning.

SKIYUH
SKIYUH

@Police_Dispatch FHP just can't help themselves. The incident with the Miami officer now the legislature. Their a daily media event

surething1050
surething1050

That's so funny. Politicians can take under the table favors by the millions but refuse favors for speeding tickets. That is probably because the favor was worth only a few hundred dollars.