by PAT RAIA, [email protected]
Sign-on bonuses, academy scholarships, and relocation support for law enforcement recruits are all part of policies that Gov. Ron DeSantis will propose during the 2021-2022 legislative session. DeSantis unveiled the plan on Aug. 17 during the 2021 Biennial National Conference & Expo hosted by the National Fraternal Order of Police (FOP).
“As so many cities and states choose to disrespect, degrade and defund the honorable work of law enforcement, we want Florida to continue valuing our men and women of law enforcement today, tomorrow and for generations to come,” DeSantis said.
Proposals include a one-time sign-on bonus for recruits new to law enforcement in Florida, an academy scholarship program for trainees attending public law enforcement training program or for those who are ineligible to receive other state financial assistance through a state college or technical center law enforcement program, and the offer of State Officer Certification Exam free of charge to law enforcement officers relocating to Florida.
In Hernando County, there are currently 357 sworn law enforcement and detention deputies in the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) according to the agency’s Community Media Relations Manager Denise Moloney, but attracting and hiring quality new recruits is challenging.
“Competition for recruits among agencies has never been greater,” Moloney said. “And all indications are that the current national climate has decreased interest in the profession, (and decreased) academy enrollment and eligible candidates.”
That’s why DeSantis’ proposals would help law enforcement agencies statewide attract and hire more candidates, Moloney said.
In the meantime, the HCSO has its strategy for attracting new recruits.
“We believe that our recently-approved Hernando County Criminal Justice Academy will allow us to provide a more convenient training option for Hernando County residents, thereby helping us attract more trained local residents to our agency,” Moloney said.
The Legislature’s regular session begins on January 11, 2022.