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Senate poised to back move of FWC law enforcement officers

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A shift of 19 Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission law-enforcement officers to the Department of Environmental Protection, a change sought by Gov. Ron DeSantis, was teed up Wednesday by the Senate for a final vote.

The move (HB 5401) is part of a reorganization that was outlined among environmental proposals by DeSantis in a Jan. 10 executive order.

The Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on the bill.

The House voted 112-0 to support the move on April 4.

The number of officers represents a fraction of the more than 800 sworn officers in the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Besides moving the officers, the bill would create the Division of Law Enforcement within the Department of Environmental Protection and require the commission and the department to detail their respective responsibilities regarding investigations and the handling oil spills, hazardous spills and natural disasters.

The commission will continue to patrol state-owned lands managed by the Department of Environmental Protection.