DeSantis proposes law enforcement funding increase

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday announced $400 million in new funding proposals to increase state law enforcement officer, correctional officer and state special risk firefighter salaries and bonuses.

In a press conference held at a Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) station in Orlando, DeSantis said lawmakers would consider the proposal during the next legislative session.

“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 said. “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.”

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The funding recommendations included $1,000 bonuses for first responders and $5,000 bonuses to recruit and retain both state and local level law enforcement, according to a press release from the governor’s office.

“Governor DeSantis’ historic law enforcement pay proposal furthers Florida’s support of law enforcement, and it also addresses a critical need within the Florida Highway Patrol,” Terry L. Rhodes, executive director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, said in a statement. “Recruiting and retaining highly qualified law enforcement officers dedicated to public services is crucial, now more than ever.”

The announcement comes during a very active November that started with DeSantis and the Department of Environmental Protection awarding $481 million in awards to improving water quality on Nov. 9. The governor is also seeking a $600 million education budget increase and incentives for becoming a state correctional officer. 

On Nov. 18 DeSantis signed legislation to protect Floridians from losing their jobs due to COVID-19 vaccine mandates and allow parents to make healthcare decisions for students on Nov. 18, and a proposal for a $1 billion gas tax relief plan on Nov. 22.

Monday’s proposals include:

State law enforcement

  • $73 million to increase the minimum pay for entry level sworn state law enforcement officers by 20 percent and to increase veteran officer salaries by 25 percent.
  • $135 million to increase the base pay of correctional officers and Department of Juvenile Justice officers. 
  • $1.4 million to increase the salaries of state special risk firefighters by up to $2,500 each. 

Local law enforcement

  • $5,000 signing bonuses for every recruit who is new to the law enforcement profession in Florida. 
  • Providing the State Officer Certification Exam free of charge to law enforcement officers relocating to Florida and covering the costs of any necessary equivalent training programs for relocating officers, up to $1,000 per officer. 
  • $1,000 bonus for first responders, including law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and firefighters across the state for the second year in a row. 
  • Creating a law enforcement academy scholarship program to cover the cost of enrollment for men and women seeking to serve their state and communities through police work. 

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