By Bethany Blankley (The Center Square)
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ police recruitment program, launched last year, has now drawn police officers from all 50 states and two U.S. territories to relocate to Florida.
Recruits have either moved to Florida or joined the profession since Florida launched its Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Program last year. This year, the legislature allocated additional funding to expand and continue the program.
“With a national lack of support for the important work law enforcement officers do daily, Florida has stood up for what is right,” DeSantis said. “Our back-the-blue policies have brought officers from all 50 states and two U.S. territories to Florida. We will continue to support law and order and make investments in the people that keep our communities safe.”
Florida has awarded over 3,350 bonuses of $5,000 each, after taxes, through the program. So far, more than $22.5 million has been awarded to recruits and law enforcement officers who relocated to Florida.
Of Florida’s new 3,350 officers, 915 moved from other states, including 47 from Illinois.
Related: Gov. DeSantis Entices Police To Florida With Bonuses And No Vaccine Mandates
In September, Florida launched billboards in the Greater Chicago area, where crime rates are among the highest in the U.S. Florida launched the program after Illinois enacted a law allowing illegal foreign nationals and noncitizens to become police officers and was the first to entirely eliminate its cash bail system.
Within a month of the billboard campaign launch, three former officers from Illinois had already moved to Florida, the governor’s office said. As Illinois’ crime rate continues to climb, Florida enjoys a 50-year record low crime rate.
“Under Governor Ron DeSantis’ leadership, 915 people from across the nation have relocated to Florida to be law enforcement officers in our great state,” said Florida Commerce Secretary J. Alex Kelly in a news release. “When states threaten to defund their police, they not only put their communities in danger but also the very lives of those who work so hard to protect them — I am proud that many have moved to Florida to pursue their careers because they know they will be supported.”
Several hundred recruits have also left the Democratic-led states of California, New York, and Pennsylvania, according to the governor’s office.
Related: New York Police Officers Relocate To Florida
In addition to a state that “backs the blue” and a $5,000 recruitment bonus, the program touts other benefits of becoming a law enforcement officer in Florida including “financial stability, upward mobility, excellent health and retirement benefits, student loan forgiveness programs, home loan programs.”
Florida also created the Hometown Heroes program to help law enforcement officers, firefighters, military veterans, and active-duty military personnel be able to afford to purchase their first home in the community they serve. The program includes down payment and closing cost assistance to eligible homebuyers, including first-time homebuyers and those who move to Florida and purchase their first home there.
Syndicated with permission from The Center Square.