Gov. Ron DeSantis has proposed an investment of $400 million in new funding to boost pay for law enforcement personnel, first responders, and emergency medical technicians (EMTs). The plan also calls for the second round of bonuses for first responders including law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and firefighters.
The budget request represents Florida’s response to policies that defunded police in other parts of the country last year.
“And it’s truly been one of the most disastrous policies that anyone has tried to implement,” DeSantis said when he announced the law enforcement budget package at a press conference in Orlando on Nov. 29. “One of the things we’re most proud of in this budget is what we’re gonna do to support law enforcement.”
DeSantis proposal calls for $73 million to increase the minimum pay for entry-level sworn state law enforcement officers by 20 percent, and an increase in pay of 25 percent for all other sworn state law enforcement personnel including Florida Highway Patrol (FHP), Fish and Wildlife (FWC) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) officers.
In addition, the plan seeks $124 million to increase salaries for corrections officers in state prisons to bring base salaries up to $20 per hour. The proposal devotes more than $11 million for the Department of Juvenile Justice to bring the minimum pay for juvenile detention officers to $17 per hour and $19 for juvenile probation officers.
Finally, the plan calls for more than $1million to increase salaries for special risk firefighters by $2,500 per person.
The fiscal 2022 proposals are in addition to $5,000 sign-on bonuses proposed in August for those who are new to law enforcement or who are relocating to Florida from law enforcement departments elsewhere. The previous proposals also provide state officer certification exams free of charge to relocating law enforcement officers and cover the cost of any equivalent training programs for relocating officers up to $1,000 per person.
If enacted, the package is “the most robust” ever proposed in the US, DeSantis said.
“We feel that it’s warranted, we also feel that it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “And it gives Florida an advantage to recruit in Florida and throughout the U.S.”n Fla and thought out US.”
DeSantis’ entire budget for 2022 is expected to be unveiled later this month.