Republican Florida Gov. Ronald DeSantis welcomed police officers from other states to come and work in Florida on Monday, saying his state has a healthier work culture for law enforcement than others and will back the blue.
“If you have a chance to do law enforcement in Florida versus some of these other jurisdictions, you’re much better off in Florida because we’ll actually stand by law enforcement,” DeSantis said during a speech at Green Cove Springs, according to Florida Politics.
DeSantis listed the lack of support for law enforcement, along with “weak policies where you’re letting people out” and not “prosecuting people who are committing habitual offenses,” as the factors fueling “huge spikes in crime in many parts of the country.”
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno told WBBH-TV in Fort Myers that he had received inquiries about openings from across the nation.
“Other officers in New York and different places ask if we have any openings. They want to transfer down,” Marceno told the outlet.
“No one wants to work where they’re not supported,” he said.
“We have some vacancies but we’re not looking to just fill a vacancy. We’re looking for the right people and we’re not going to lower the bar,” Marceno added.
The biggest city in Southwest Florida, Cape Coral, has been inundated by people seeking employment with its police department, according to WBBH.
“We have a waiting list of people we’re vetting and our hiring is constant. We’re always looking for job applications,” Corp. Phil Mullen of the Cape Coral Police Department told the outlet.
However, while Cape Coral is among the highest-paying police departments in the state, it offers starting annual salaries of only about $40,000 for trainees and $56,000 for experienced officers, WBBH reported.
“No one is going to get rich being a law enforcement officer, but that is not why we do it,” Mullen said.
DeSantis acknowledged that the pay “is not great” for police in Florida, adding that the state has done “some stuff to increase that, and obviously, you have on the municipal and county level as well,” according to WBBH.
Some departments are providing incentives to attract candidates to fill their 16 vacancies, the outlet reported. For example, the Fort Myers Police Department has a “help wanted” sign up at its headquarters.
“We offer relocation assistance. We offer relocation in state and out of state to help with the move,” Fort Myers police Lt. Jason Pate told WBBH.
The department also sponsors academy training for selected individuals.
“If we’re sponsoring officers to go through, you have a job with us the minute we hire you. We pay for you to go through the academy plus we pay you while you’re in the academy,” Pate said.
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