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Florida governor defends search of ex-state worker’s home

December 11, 2020 GMT
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla., regarding education and COVID-19 at Boggy Creek Elementary School. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla., regarding education and COVID-19 at Boggy Creek Elementary School. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel via AP)
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference on Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, in Kissimmee, Fla., regarding education and COVID-19 at Boggy Creek Elementary School. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel via AP)

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vigorously defended law enforcement officers Friday on how they served a search warrant at the home of a former Department of Health employee being investigated for unauthorized use of an emergency alert system.

Officers served the search warrant at the home of Rebekah Jones on Monday. Jones helped develop the state’s COVID-19 dashboard, but was later fired for insubordination and has since publicly questioned the accuracy of the data. She recorded the first 31 seconds of the encounter and posted it on social media. It showed officers with guns drawn entering her home.

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The Florida Department of Law Enforcement later released bodycam video of officers repeatedly knocking on her door and trying to call her to gain entrance to the house.

“These people did their jobs. They’ve been smeared as the gestapo for doing their jobs. They did a search warrant. Why did they do a search warrant on the house? Because her IP address was linked to the felony. What were they supposed to do? Just ignore it?” DeSantis said.

The message that led to the search warrant implored employees still at the Health Department “to speak up before another 17,000 people are dead. You know this is wrong. You don’t have to be a part of this. Be a hero.”

DeSantis said improperly accessing the emergency alert system is a serious offence and the department did the right thing by contacting law enforcement.

“This individual became known because she alleged a conspiracy theory at the Department of Health, which is unfounded. Never proven at all. She was fired because she wasn’t doing a good job,” DeSantis said. “You’d think that would be the end of it. Obviously, she’s got issues.”

DeSantis said that he knew there was an investigation, but didn’t know how it was being handled.

“DeSantis admits his previous statement about knowing nothing about the investigation was a lie,” Jones said on Twitter.

Jones changed her cellphone number after it was made public on the bodycam video and didn’t immediately reply to a Twitter direct message seeking comment.