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DeSantis Proposes 'Signing Bonuses' And Other Measures To Recruit Police


New law enforcement officers in Florida would be eligible for $5,000 bonuses from the state under a proposal Gov. Ron DeSantis outlined Tuesday.

“Now, that may mean somebody who is younger, who decides to go into law enforcement who is already a Florida resident. But it would also apply to someone moving from another state," DeSantis said at a press conference at the Lakeland Police Department.

Out-of-state officers would also be eligible for $1,000 to cover moving expenses. The governor also wants to create a new scholarship program for people interested in law enforcement careers, and make it easier for officers from other states to attain certification in Florida.

DeSantis also cited anecdotal evidence of police quitting after last year’s protests for racial justice following the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. But according to The Marshall Project, that's not the case.

The non-profit news outlet analyzed federal labor data, which show employment at local law enforcement agencies in the U.S. declined by less than one percent in 2020. State and federal agencies saw a slight increase in hiring, according to The Marshall Project's analysis.

The governor made the announcement in Lakeland because the city has been successful in recruiting out-of-state officers. Earlier this year, the agency held a hiring event in New York City.

“We sent a crew of seven up to New York City," said assistant chief Hans Lehman. "We decided on that one because there's 30,000 plus officers in that area. So we knew that we could target that area pretty heavily and pretty quickly.”

Lehman said about 100 officers from the region applied and his department hired 13. Six of those new officers begin working in Lakeland next week, he said.

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Bradley George comes to WUSF from Atlanta, where he was a reporter, host, and editor at Georgia Public Broadcasting. While in Atlanta, he reported for NPR, Marketplace, Here & Now, and The Takeaway. His work has been recognized by PRNDI, the Georgia Associated Press, and the Atlanta Press Club. Prior to his time in Georgia, Bradley worked at public radio stations in Tennessee, Alabama, and North Carolina.