OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis appeared to make good on a previous pledge to reward police and first responders in his state as well as attract other professionals from states and cities where they may not feel as appreciated or supported.
On Monday, the popular GOP governor traveled to the Florida Highway Patrol station in Orlando to announce $1,000 bonuses for the state’s law enforcement officers, firefighters, and other first responders as part of a $400 million initiative to increase their salaries.
“We will always support our law enforcement,” DeSantis declared at the event.
“While other states have turned their backs on law enforcement, even calling to ‘defund the police,’ in Florida we continue to support the men and women in law enforcement,” DeSantis said in a statement.
“I am proud to propose larger and longer-lasting measures to help our state recruit and retain the best law enforcement officers in the nation and to provide $1,000 bonuses for first responders and law enforcement officers for the second year in a row,” he added.
The statement added:
Governor DeSantis also announced $5,000 bonuses to recruit and retain both state and local level law enforcement. Governor DeSantis announced the proposal that will be considered during the 2022 Florida Legislative Session at the Florida Highway Patrol station in Orlando.
“Florida’s first responders and law enforcement officers are the backbone of our communities and these men and women have stood strong on the frontlines time and time again,” said Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis.
“Through natural disasters and a pandemic, these are the heroes that leave their families at a moment’s notice to run towards danger in the service of others. We don’t have safe communities and a vibrant economy where families can thrive without these heroes working every day to protect us,” Patronis continued.
“In Florida, we appreciate law and order and those that answer the call to serve. Thank you to Governor DeSantis for always supporting Florida’s first responders and ensuring they have the resources needed to keep Floridians safe.”
Col. Roger Young, FWC Division of Law Enforcement, said: “Today’s announcement is yet another testament to Governor DeSantis’ steadfast support of law enforcement.”
“The conservation law enforcement officers of the FWC work hard every day to protect the people and natural resources of Florida. This initiative will enable our agency to recruit and retain qualified officers and continue to provide excellent public service to Floridians and visitors to the state,” he continued.
Other state officials also weighed in on the proposal and the bonuses.
“I applaud Governor DeSantis’ tremendous proposal that emphasizes the depth of his unwavering support for our state’s law enforcement members, as well as his recognition that recruiting and maintaining public safety personnel is vital to strengthening our communities and keeping all Floridians and visitors safe,” said FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen.
“Governor DeSantis’ historic law enforcement pay proposal furthers Florida’s support of law enforcement, and it also addresses a critical need within the Florida Highway Patrol,” added Terry L. Rhodes, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
“Recruiting and retaining highly qualified law enforcement officers dedicated to public services is crucial, now more than ever,” Rhodes continued. “The Governor’s historic pay proposal makes it clear that Florida cares for and recognizes the sacrifices that law enforcement officers and their families make, many times in the most challenging of circumstances.”
DeSantis has frequently been mentioned as a potential GOP presidential contender in 2024, but earlier this month he officially filed to run for reelection.
“Florida’s future is on the line, & we have too much to lose to stop now. I’ve fought like hell to keep FL free & I can tell you this: I’ve only begun to fight! Election Day is exactly 1 year away & freedom is on the ballot. Let’s do this,” he tweeted at the time.