Gov. DeSantis signs law enforcement recruitment package into law
Ron DeSantis. Image via AP.

'We want to support you if you make that decision to protect and serve.'

New police officers in Florida will receive a $5,000 bonus and will have up to $1,000 in tuition, fees and other education expenses for policy academies covered as part of a large law enforcement bill Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law Friday.

The bonus and training program costs in the bill (HB 3) were part of a package DeSantis pushed for starting last year, in addition to a $1,000 reimbursement for training costs.

The proposal is aimed at recruiting police officers in other states to move to Florida and get more in-state recruits for law enforcement agencies. DeSantis often juxtaposed his proposal with a push from some advocates to “defund the police” in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police in 2020.

“We never once backed down from supporting the folks who wear the uniform, who wear the badge, who put themselves at risk to keep us safe,” DeSantis said shortly before signing the bill in Titusville. “We wanted to say that this law enforcement profession is a noble calling and we want to support you if you make that decision to protect and serve.”

New officers must complete training and be hired at a Florida law enforcement agency and work for at least two years to receive the $5,000 bonus.

“You started to see good people vilified for the bad acts of a few,” said Rep. Tom Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican who sponsored the bill. “In Florida, we don’t defund the police. Not today, not tomorrow and not ever.”

The new law takes effect July 1.

Lawmakers included several other provisions in the bill aimed at boosting police officers, such as a $5,000 increase in salary for every county Sheriff, allowing military veterans with an associates degree to skip the basic skills test requirement for law enforcement recruit training programs, and giving police officers credit at state universities and state colleges for their law enforcement training.

Children of police officers also will be eligible for vouchers to attend a private school, and police officers who adopt a child from the state welfare system will receive a $10,000 payment. Those who adopt a special needs child will receive a $25,000 payment.

Another provision of the bill, which received criticism from some Democrats when it was tacked onto the measure late in the Legislative Session, allows Sheriffs to transfer money in their budgets after it has been approved by the County Commission.

The underlying bill, however, received overwhelming bipartisan support, passing unanimously in the Senate and 114-3 in the House.

Gray Rohrer


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