Budget conference: House, Senate lock in police scholarship funding
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Gov. Ron DeSantis often touts the package as a recruitment tool targeting cops in progressive cities.

The House and Senate agreed Wednesday to provide $6 million toward scholarships designed to attract candidates into Florida’s law enforcement community.

The funding will be split into two scholarships — $1 million to attract out-of-state cops and $5 million to cover the training expenses of select police cadets.

DeSantis — a 2024 GOP presidential contender — floated the law enforcement recruitment package in September in rebuke of progressive calls to “defund the police.”

“We think that that’s a way to draw good talent from within our own state.” DeSantis explained during the announcement. “We also think it’s a way to capitalize (on) some of the folks who are not getting the support they need.”

The package (HB 3) creates the state’s first Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program. Ormond Beach Republican Rep. Tom Leek is the bill sponsor.

If signed into law, the scholarship would cover up to $1,000 of tuition, fees and other police academy-related expenses for aspiring law enforcement officers.

Florida’s basic recruit training program can be costly, proponents note. Lasting 16 to 22 weeks, recruits are often unpaid unless pre-selected and financed by a law enforcement agency.

The other scholarship, meanwhile, is designed to attract out-of-state cops by offering up to $1,000 toward Equivalency of Training (EOT) process costs.

EOT — reserved for out-of-state officers and federal officers, among others — provides abbreviated training and certification to law enforcement veterans from elsewhere.

DeSantis often touts the measure as a recruitment tool targeting police officers in progressive cities, where he alleges they are mistreated.

Budget negotiators — the Senate Education Appropriations Committee and the House Higher Education Appropriations Committee — reached the agreement in the Senate’s first budget offer.

The $6 million in scholarships is contingent upon lawmakers passing the associated proposal and the blessing of DeSantis.

The House in February passed the measure along a 108-4 vote. The bill now awaits Senate consideration, where Clearwater Republican Sen. Ed Hooper will shepherd the proposal.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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