The three proposals aimed at helping Florida "strengthen" its law enforcement personnel include a $5,000 signing bonus "for anybody who is new to law enforcement in the state" or for those moving into the state; a new recruitment program that covers "up to $1,000" of costs for applications and training for officers coming into Florida from other states; and the creation of a law enforcement academy scholarship program.
"We're proud in Florida of being a state where people who are in uniform know they're appreciated, they know they have the support — certainly of the governor and the attorney general, but also our legislature and the people throughout the state of Florida," DeSantis said during a press conference held at the Lakeland Police Department.
The governor noted that as city and state officials across the U.S. moved to allocate funds from police departments to other safety and health initiatives aimed at combatting crime in 2020, Florida decided not to follow in their footsteps and has instead been working to increase funding for law enforcement in the state.
"We understand that all the things that we care about … fighting for [our] economy, education — all these things that are so important — if you don't have safe communities, you don't have rule of law, law and order — a lot of that stuff isn't going to matter," DeSantis said. "So 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."
He added that morale has been low among some police departments amid anti-police sentiment and rising crime in certain areas, and Florida is working to boost confidence by offering incentives for potential officers seeking work.
"I think this will be something that's really, really welcome when the [legislative] session starts," the governor said.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, the wife of a law enforcement officer, called Florida the most "pro-law enforcement" state in the country and criticized last year's calls to defund police departments as "idiotic" and "criminal" during Tuesday's press conference.
"We need to make sure they have financial incentive to look upon law enforcement as a profession that they can [have to] provide for their family," Moody said.