Back the Blue: DeSantis offers sign-on bonuses to recruit out-of-state police officers

by Vianca Rodriguez

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced this week he is recruiting out-of-state police officers from departments that had their funding slashed in the wake of last summer’s racial justice riots and protests. The governor made the announcement during a press conference at the Lakeland Police Department on Tuesday.

DeSantis made it clear he “backs the blue” with his measure to attract out-of-state police officers which will also offer hefty sign-on bonuses for them to relocate to the Sunshine State. The governor stated he values “those who wear the uniform” that are “unsupported and unappreciated” in other cities across the nation.

As part of DeSantis’ three-part incentive to recruit law enforcement officers to Florida, he is offering active support for law enforcement officers, a $5,000 signing bonus for any new officer, additional financial aid for out-of-state recruits (including costs for any certification or training program of up to $1,000 per officer), and a law enforcement academy scholarship to cover enrollment costs.

Matt Spoto, a former New York Police Department officer, wrote a statement describing his experience relocating to the Lakeland Police Department in Florida.

“I used to have to lie about what I used to do. I used to tell people I was a bartender, because it was almost like I had to be ashamed to be a law enforcement officer,” he said referring to his NYPD career.

“I think everybody, regardless of the career that you chose, you want to be appreciated in what you do. It doesn’t matter what job you do. So I knew as soon as I saw the Governor making all these strides, to bring all these law enforcement officers down here, I knew this is where I wanted to be. And I’ll tell you that I’m very excited for this next chapter in my life,” Matt Spoto added.

The Lakeland Police Department has already recruited over 13 law enforcement officers from New York City to fill its vacancies in Florida.

There already appears to be a waiting list of potential recruits in the southwest Florida city of Cape Coral. According to Cpl. Phil Mullen, Cape Coral has a “waiting list of people we’re vetting and our hiring is constant. We’re always looking for job applications.”

“You know we’ve seen this time and again. When we were in Surfside, within minutes you had first responders showing. They’re digging in the rubble, they’re going in getting and rescuing people knowing that the rest of that building could collapse,” DeSantis added at the press conference. “These are folks that, they’re the ones that have to be the tip of the spear when anything happens in society that’s dangerous and that endangers the community and I think the least we can do is let them know we support them.”

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