LAKELAND, Fla. — New law enforcement officers in Florida could eventually receive a $5,000 signing bonus.
Speaking in Lakeland on Tuesday, Gov. Ron DeSantis announced a sweeping proposal to recruit and retain law enforcement officers in the Sunshine State.
Part of the plan includes a $5,000 signing bonus for law enforcement officers who are new to Florida, including those who have recently entered the profession, along with veteran officers from other states who are relocating here.
"We think that's a good way to draw talent from within our own state to enter the profession in the first place," DeSantis said. "But we also think it's a way to capitalize off some of the folks who are not getting the support they need and to say, you know what, you'll be supported in Florida."
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Under the proposal, Florida would cover the cost of the State Officer Certification Exam, as well as any necessary training programs up to $1,000 for out-of-state officers.
DeSantis said the goal is to not only recruit more law enforcement professionals to the Sunshine State, but also improve morale in this increasingly difficult and turbulent profession.
"This is something where you have people that have chosen this profession, and they have an opportunity to come to communities, cities, counties, the state of Florida knowing that they're going to be appreciated," DeSantis said.
The governor is asking the Florida Legislature to take up the funding plan during next year's Legislative Session, which is slated to run from Jan. 11 to March 11.
"We will stand behind law enforcement," Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said. "Your profession will be celebrated as a noble one, and we will make sure that you have the tools and the resources you need to do your job and to do them well."
Earlier this year, Florida offered a significant show of support by giving $1,000 bonuses to all sworn law enforcement officers, firefighters, and first responders in the state.
"It's fundamental that we have safe communities, and you don't have safe communities if you're not supporting the folks who wear the uniform," DeSantis said.