Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ innovative recruitment campaign to bolster law enforcement in the Sunshine State has achieved remarkable success, bringing in hundreds of officers from all 50 states and two U.S. territories.
The Florida Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Program, launched last year, has been strongly supported by Governor DeSantis, who is vying for the Republican presidential nomination in 2024.
According to a press release by Florida governor’s office, the program offers a one-time bonus payment of $5,000 to each newly employed officer within the state of Florida.
This substantial incentive, combined with other benefits and the state’s pro-police policies, has led to the recruitment of a total of 3,350 officers, including 915 officers from all 50 states and two U.S. territories.
This recruitment effort has not been limited to in-state candidates but has also targeted officers from out of state.
In one instance, Governor DeSantis’ office set up billboards in Illinois to encourage law enforcement officers in the state to “make the smart move” to Florida.
The governor himself, along with other police representatives from across Florida, also went on a tour of towns across Pennsylvania and Illinois to personally persuade officers to make the career change.
According to the governor’s office, the campaign was initiated after Illinois approved policies allowing noncitizens to become officers and moved to abolish cash bail.
The results have been promising so far, with 47 officers making the move from Illinois to Florida, including three since the billboards went up in September.
“With a national lack of support for the important work law enforcement officers do daily, Florida has stood up for what is right. Our ‘back the blue’ policies have brought officers from all 50 states and two U.S. territories to Florida. We will continue to support law and order and make investments in the people that keep our communities safe,” DeSantis pledged.
In addition to the recruitment bonus, Florida officials have highlighted various benefits offered to officers in the state, including student loan forgiveness programs, home loan programs and other initiatives to enhance financial stability and career development.
These incentives, along with the pro-police policies in Florida, have made the state an attractive destination for law enforcement professionals.
Florida’s efforts to bolster law enforcement have been framed against the backdrop of contrasting policies in other states that advocate for more liberal criminal justice reforms, including defunding the police.
Florida Commerce Secretary J. Alex Kelly was proud of the state’s efforts to support law enforcement.
“When states threaten to defund their police, they not only put their communities in danger but also the very lives of those who work so hard to protect them,” Kelly stated.
Thus far, the Florida Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Program has awarded a total of $22.5 million in bonuses to signing officers.
Governor DeSantis announced in April that 1,750 bonuses were given out to law enforcement officers.
In addition, the program’s budget for the fiscal year 2023–24 increased from $20 million to $30 million.
Moreover, the state of Florida recently achieved a 50-year low crime rate, which officials point to as proof of a positive impact of its law enforcement recruitment initiatives.