TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a wide-ranging package Friday that includes providing bonuses to help recruit law enforcement officers from other states and giving county sheriffs more autonomy over their budgets.
The highest-profile part of the measure (HB 3) is $5,000 recruitment bonuses for law enforcement officers. With the law taking effect July 1, the state Department of Economic Opportunity is required to develop minimum eligibility requirements for the program.
“We want to incentivize really strong, high-quality people to pursue law enforcement as a vocation in the state of Florida,” DeSantis said during a bill-signing ceremony at the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office in Titusville. “That may mean that you leave Seattle or Chicago or some of these places and come to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office. But it could also mean that you’re somebody that’s in Florida trying to determine what you want to do with your life.”
Other aspects of the measure include establishing a Florida Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program to cover basic training tuition and fees for new officers and creating an exemption from certain law enforcement training requirements for military veterans.
Sheriffs, under the bill, will see their base salaries increase by $5,000 a year.
Sheriffs will also get more leeway with their budgets after the spending plans have been approved by county commissions. Currently, sheriffs can appeal county budgetary decisions to the state Administration Commission, which is made up of the governor and members of the Florida Cabinet. But lawmakers included the change into the bill in response to a legal battle started when former Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell shifted money within her budget. Alachua County fought the move, and the Florida Supreme Court in January ruled that the money couldn’t be shifted without approval from the county commission.