OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed last this year to woo police officers from around the country to his state where they would be respected — not defunded — and empowered to do their jobs to protect the public from criminals.
One way he pledged to do so was to push through a funding bill in the GOP-controlled legislature, offering $5,000 ‘sign-on bonuses’ to new officers who relocated to Florida.
DeSantis made good on his pledge on Friday when he announced the payments for officers in Cape Coral, in response to their handling of Hurricane Ian.
“We understand the vital, vital role that law enforcement plays in a situation like this [hurricane response], of course, because if you look at the people that were helping rescue folks, you had police officers, sheriff’s deputies, you had state agencies, the Coast Guard,” DeSantis said Friday in announcing the bonuses.
“But you also just have daily life — even apart from a spectacular disaster like we’ve just suffered — you want to have safe streets. You want to have safe communities. That used to be something in this country that we universally expected and had in most places,” DeSantis added.
“You have some places in this country that are operated almost like third world countries with the crime just totally out of control. When that happens, the whole society starts to fray,” the GOP governor continued. “Morale is very low, and we’ve seen the morale — really since the Floyd riots — has been probably the lowest we’ve seen in a long time. And so we saw an opportunity in Florida to say, you know, we want to reward people who are going into this profession. We want to value people that are going into this profession.”
“So if you’re coming from one of those states or one of those other cities where you’re not being treated well, and you come to take a job in any of our departments, you qualify for a $5,000 bonus and not just for people coming from out of state. If you have new people within Florida who have not been in law enforcement and they make the decision to go into law enforcement, they are also eligible for the bonuses that we were able to enact,” he continued.
“And so, you know, there’s some places where law enforcement’s targeted. We’re doing the $5,000 dollar bonus here, which is going out in a much better direction. I think people appreciate it. So we have folks here today that are gonna be rewarded with these $5,000 bonus checks,” DeSantis said.
“And so they all came on board Cape Coral PD sometime this year. Some of them, only a couple months ago, they got a baptism by fire, having to go through Hurricane Ian. These are gonna be the first, so the legislature passed the law in the session. I signed it. It took effect July 1,” he added.
Last November, DeSantis traveled to the Florida Highway Patrol station in Orlando to announce $1,000 bonuses for the state’s law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders as part of a $400 million initiative to increase their salaries.
“We will always support our law enforcement,” DeSantis declared at the event.
“While other states have turned their backs on law enforcement, even calling to ‘defund the police,’ in Florida we continue to support the men and women in law enforcement,” DeSantis added in a statement.
“I am proud to propose larger and longer-lasting measures to help our state recruit and retain the best law enforcement officers in the nation and to provide $1,000 bonuses for first responders and law enforcement officers for the second year in a row,” he added.
The statement added:
Governor DeSantis also announced $5,000 bonuses to recruit and retain both state and local level law enforcement. Governor DeSantis announced the proposal that will be considered during the 2022 Florida Legislative Session at the Florida Highway Patrol station in Orlando.
“Florida’s first responders and law enforcement officers are the backbone of our communities, and these men and women have stood strong on the frontlines time and time again,” said Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.
“Through natural disasters and a pandemic, these are the heroes that leave their families at a moment’s notice to run towards danger in the service of others. We don’t have safe communities and a vibrant economy where families can thrive without these heroes working every day to protect us,” Patronis added.