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Former Pilot Reveals Investigation into Florida Department of Law Enforcement

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) appears to be investigating Florida’s top law enforcement agency, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), according to revelations made by a former FDLE pilot.

Agency Related To Immigration Enforcement Flights

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This investigation comes amid concerns regarding the agency’s aviation unit, which had previously carried out flights related to immigration enforcement. The matter also raises questions about the agency’s adherence to safety protocols and legal regulations.

Allegations and Concerns

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Former FDLE pilot Robert Robbins, in a letter dated December 2, addressed to Florida’s chief inspector general, outlined several alleged policy and legal violations within the FDLE. He highlighted concerns about the safety of FDLE aviation operations and its hiring practices, emphasizing that these issues put both personnel and officials, including Governor Ron DeSantis, at risk.

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FAA’s Involvement

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Robbins revealed that he had been contacted by the FAA as part of an investigation into safety concerns related to FDLE’s aviation unit. While the FAA did not confirm or comment on ongoing investigations, this development suggests that federal authorities are looking into the matter.

Legal Perspective

Aviation attorney Alan Armstrong, with extensive experience in FAA-related cases, reviewed Robbins’ letter. Armstrong highlighted the seriousness of the allegations and suggested that, if substantiated, they could lead to comprehensive audits and investigations of the FDLE.

Ongoing Legal Disputes

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Robbins has been engaged in a legal battle with the FDLE for over a year, claiming retaliation after raising safety concerns. His concerns included alleged unsafe operations of FDLE aircraft and the hiring of unqualified pilots.

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Specific Allegations

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Robbins’ seven-page letter to the inspector general includes specific allegations, such as the claim that FDLE’s current leader, Glass, flew surplus helicopters without the necessary license. FDLE responded later, asserting that Glass did possess the required license and dismissing Robbins’ claims as coming from a disgruntled former employee.

Immigration Flights Controversy

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Robbins’ letter also touches on immigration flights conducted off the Florida Keys. These flights were initiated following an executive order by Governor DeSantis, activating the Florida National Guard and state law enforcement to monitor immigrants arriving by boat. The missions included flights over the waters off the Keys to search for migrant vessels.

Safety Concerns on Immigration Flights

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Concerns were raised that FDLE pilots were flying a single-engine Cessna further offshore than permitted by the FDLE’s own policy during these missions, jeopardizing pilot safety. The FDLE eventually acknowledged the safety hazards and began leasing more suitable aircraft for the operations.

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FDLE’s Expanding Role

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The FDLE’s role expanded as Governor DeSantis gained national prominence and prepared for a potential presidential run. The agency became involved in various aspects of his political agenda, including immigration enforcement, election investigations, and increased security measures as DeSantis traveled nationally.

Increased Security for DeSantis

DeSantis’s office justified the heightened security measures due to perceived security threats as his national profile grew.

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