Gov. Ron DeSantis declared Florida a state of “law and order” during his State of the State address on Tuesday, and further vowed to support law enforcement against proponents of progressive criminal justice reform.
“We will not allow law enforcement to be defunded, bail to be eliminated, criminals to be prematurely released from prison or prosecutors to ignore the law,” DeSantis told lawmakers during the more than 30-minute address.
An outspoken supporter of police, DeSantis touted several pro-law enforcement proposals lawmakers will consider in the 2022 Session, which began Tuesday.
He highlighted plans to raise pay for state law enforcement officers by 25% and emphasized his intent to provide $5,000 bonuses for new police officers. Out-of-state officers who transfer to Florida will also qualify for the bonus.
“Serving in law enforcement is a noble calling and we will not allow our officers to be smeared by reckless politicians and corporate media,” DeSantis said.
DeSantis invited North Miami Beach Police Officer Yehuda Topper to join him at the address. Topper, DeSantis said, moved to Florida from New York and is the state’s first orthodox Jewish police officer.
“Let there be no doubt to those who wear the uniform: the state of Florida stands with you!” DeSantis said.
Last year, Republican lawmakers passed several pro-law enforcement measures into law, including a bill to crack down on rioters. That measure stiffens penalties against rioters and allows state leaders to veto any local budget they argue hampers law enforcement.
DeSantis also provided $1,000 bonuses to all police officers, firefighters and EMTs in Florida. The Republican Governor is a frequent guest on Fox News and often bashes progressive cities such as New York, Seattle and San Francisco.
Leaders of those cities, he commonly suggests, have turned their back on law enforcement.
“These soft-on-crime policies have been tried in communities throughout the country to disastrous results: crime has skyrocketed, morale for police officers has plummeted and quality of life has been destroyed,” DeSantis said.
He touched on a slew of topics during the address. Law and order, he emphasized, requires a secure border.
DeSantis in June sent 50 police officers to Texas to address the ongoing border crisis. The mission cost state taxpayers $1.6 million as of November — a small price, he contended, compared to the harm inflicted upon local communities.
“The crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border over the past year has witnessed staggering illegal migration and a massive influx of narcotics like fentanyl,” DeSantis said.
Migrant encounters at the Southern Border hit a 21-year high in July, per the Pew Research Center.