LAKELAND, Fla. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis plans to ask state lawmakers to pass legislation designed to recruit and retain law enforcement officers in the Sunshine State with incentives, including a $5,000 sign-on bonus.
DeSantis said his office will make a push this next legislative session in January for a legislation package to fill open law enforcement positions by offering incentives to draw professionals from other states to Florida and encourage people to pursue a career as a first responder.
“The first thing that we’re going to do is we’re going to offer a $5,000 signing bonus for anybody who is new to law enforcement in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said. “Now that may mean somebody who’s younger who decides to go into law enforcement (who) is already a Florida resident, it would also apply to someone moving from another state, so if you come from New York or Seattle or some place like that.”
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The governor’s second proposal would include a recruitment program that removes roadblocks for out-of-state law enforcement officers who want to relocate to Florida.
“We will also cover the cost of any necessary equivalent training programs for relocating officers, up to $1,000 per officer,” DeSantis said.
Those funds could cover a law enforcement officer who would need to take a two-week course known as Equivalency of Training, which can cost anywhere from $500 to more than $1,000. Officers then have to take a Florida law enforcement exam.
According to News 6 traffic safety expert Steven Montiero, a Florida state reserves trooper, it would be very rare for an agency to cover the exam and EOT fees.
The next regular Florida legislative session begins in January.