TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida’s top law enforcement officials were repeatedly warned by their own staff that Gov. Ron DeSantis’ claim that the state’s crime rate is at a 50-year low — a message he often uses as part of his presidential campaign — was based on incomplete data that makes the accuracy of the claim impossible to verify.

Despite those warnings, DeSantis continued to promote the numbers on the campaign trail, three former officials with Florida’s Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) familiar with the matter told NBC News.

“The ethics of what we were reporting, we knew the numbers were bad,” a former FDLE employee told NBC News. “We foot-stomped it to leadership over and over again; they did not care. They did not care.”

“We were soldiers, though,” the person said, adding that the department’s bosses asked staff members to produce numbers even though the staff members had doubts about them — still, “we did it.”

Each of the former FLDE employees said there was a pervasive sense among agency staff that the numbers needed to say what their leadership wanted — and that those demands were coming from the governor’s office for political reasons.

Read the full story on NBC News.