Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the creation of a three-part incentive to help recruit police officers from across the country and train young Florida law enforcement talent.
The three proposals, which would be aimed at helping Florida “strengthen” its law enforcement workforce, include a $5,000 signing bonus “for anyone new to Florida law enforcement” or those moving into the state; a new recruitment program that covers “up to $1,000” in application and training costs for law enforcement officers entering from other states; and the creation of an academic scholarship program for law enforcement.
According to DeSantis, his initiative seeks to combat actions taken by some jurisdictions nationwide that cut police budgets and “abandon” officers.
“We’ve been 100 percent behind them, because we understand them,” DeSantis said during a press conference held at the Lakeland Police Department. All the things we care about… If you don’t have safe communities, if you don’t have rule of law, a lot of that stuff really isn’t going to matter. It’s fundamental that we have safe communities, and you don’t have safe communities if you don’t support the men in uniform.”
“We’re proud in Florida of being a state where people who are in uniform know they’re appreciated, they know they have the support — certainly of the governor and the attorney general, but also our legislature and the people throughout the state of Florida,” the governor continued.
Restoring morale in Florida law enforcement
DeSantis noted that morale in some police departments has taken a hit amid anti-police sentiment and rising crime in certain areas of the country, and Florida is working to boost confidence by offering incentives for prospective officers seeking jobs.
The Republican also said he chose the Lakeland Police Department as the location for the announcement after learning that its officials traveled out of state to recruit new officers.
“I originally heard about them on Facebook, they were doing a recruitment process in Times Square,” Matthew Spoto, who was part of the NYPD said. “I used to have to lie about what I do. It was almost like I was ashamed to be a law enforcement officer,” he added.
For her part, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who is the wife of a law enforcement officer, called Florida the most “pro-law enforcement” state in the country and criticized last year’s calls to defund police departments as “idiotic,” “negligent” and “criminal.”
“We need to make sure they have financial incentive to look upon law enforcement as a profession that they can [have to] provide for their family,” the AG said.
“And you’re not only welcomed: your profession will be celebrated as a noble one, and we will make sure you have the tools and the resources to do your job and do it well,” she added.