As part of his plan to recruit and retain law enforcement officers in the Sunshine State, Governor Ron DeSantis is proposing $5,000 signing bonuses for new recruits.
Today, DeSantis was joined by Attorney General Ashley Moody, members of the Legislature, and local law enforcement officials to announce this signing bonus and two other new policy proposals for the upcoming Legislative Session to help recruit new law enforcement officers and support Florida’s local and state law enforcement agencies.
These proposals provide state resources to recruit law enforcement officers through three separate programs:
- New officer signing bonuses;
- Academy scholarship program; and
- Out-of-state relocation support.
New Officer Signing Bonuses will provide a one-time $5,000 payment to sworn law enforcement officers who are new to the profession in Florida. These bonuses will be eligible to individuals with no prior employment in this state as a sworn law enforcement officer, corrections officer or other institutional security officer. Additionally, the funds are to be repaid to the state if the officer leaves their role prior to one-year of continuous service.
The Academy Scholarship Program, created through the Department of Education, will provide additional resources for law enforcement academy enrollees. The scholarships will be given on a first come, first served basis and will cover two different tracks for trainees:
- For students who are ineligible to receive other state financial assistance through a state college or technical center law enforcement program, the scholarship will cover the cost of tuition and fees for the program at a state college or technical center; and,
- For students who are attending a private academy, the scholarship will cover the cost associated with the training program at an amount equivalent to the average tuition and fees that would be associated with a public law enforcement training program.
Trainees who are sponsored by a law enforcement agency that covers the cost of academy training are ineligible to receive the scholarship.
Florida will support the Recruitment of Out of State Law Enforcement Officers by providing the State Officer Certification Exam free of charge to law enforcement officers relocating to Florida. Additionally, the state will cover the cost of any necessary Equivalency Training Programs for law enforcement officers relocating to Florida, up to a maximum of $1,000 per officer.
“I am proud to highlight a legislative priority for this upcoming session – new initiatives to help our state recruit and retain talented and dedicated law enforcement officers, including $5,000 signing bonuses,” said DeSantis. “Florida values our law enforcement community, and we must provide them the support they need and deserve to at the end of the day protect and serve our state.”
“As the wife of a law enforcement officer, I am so grateful that we have a Governor who understands and appreciates that our brave LEOs put their lives on the line every day to uphold the rule of law and protect Floridians,” said Moody. “I could not be more thankful for Governor DeSantis’ efforts to support all of our law enforcement heroes. These recruitment initiatives demonstrate our appreciation and commitment to the men and women who choose to wear the badge and serve as a reminder to our frontline heroes that we have their backs.”
“Our recent recruiting efforts have proven there are out-of-state officers excited to have the opportunity of calling Florida home,” said Lakeland Assistant Chief of Police Hans Lehman. “The proposed legislation from Governor DeSantis that includes signing bonuses will help law enforcement agencies across Florida fill vacancies and continue to provide high-quality services to the citizens of this state.”
Senator Kelli Stargel said, “I applaud the Lakeland Police Department for their innovative approach to recruiting officers. Here in Florida we stand with law enforcement and are thrilled to welcome any officer who wants to relocate to a community where you will be respected and valued. The horrific shooting that occurred over the weekend is a tragic example of how our law enforcement officers put their lives on the line each and every day to protect Floridians, and we are grateful for them.”