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Gov. DeSantis proposes $5K signing bonus to attract cops to Florida, including unvaccinated ones

Most police departments nationwide experienced staffing shortages last year, and the situation hasn't gotten much better.

Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News on Sunday he is hoping the Florida Legislature will pass legislation granting a $5,000 bonus to police officers who may be unvaccinated and want to relocate to the Sunshine State.

Law enforcement agencies nationwide are reporting a shortage of qualified people to join their departments. The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office is one in our area reporting they’re looking to hire.

With mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations happening in select states and large cities, some police officers are leaving the profession entirely -- either voluntarily or they’re getting fired for non-compliance with the new rules in states like Massachusetts, Illinois and California.

During an appearance Sunday on Fox News, DeSantis called on police officers battling vaccine mandates to relocate to Sunshine State.

“In Florida, not only are we going to want to protect the law enforcement and all the jobs, we’re actually actively working to recruit out-of-state law enforcement because we do have needs in our police and our sheriff’s departments,” DeSantis said. “In the next legislative session, I’m going to hopefully sign legislation that gives a $5,000 bonus to any out-of-state law enforcement that moves to Florida.”

In a news conference on Monday, DeSantis rejected the framing that the bonus is meant to attract unvaccinated police officers.

“No, no, no, no. It’s for officers period, it is has nothing to do with their vaccination status so that’s just wrong,” DeSantis said. “I put that out there as a proposal months ago and the reason we’re doing it is because people are being treated poorly in Seattle and Minnesota, and NYPD, they don’t have the support, they’ve had their funding cut.”

DeSantis pointed to the fact that law enforcement officers in Florida were among the first to be offered the COVID-19 vaccine. But, some are still rejecting the shot and COVID-19 is the leading cause of death among police officers in the nation.

In Chicago, city workers, including police officers, were required this month to report their COVID-19 vaccination status. Those who are unvaccinated are required to test for COVID twice a week through Dec. 31, the deadline given to be fully vaccinated.

In New York City, one police union said it is planning to take legal action to challenge that city’s mandate.

In Florida, DeSantis has called on the legislature to meet in a special session to ban COVID-19 vaccination mandates for businesses, schools and government agencies. Violators can face thousands of dollars in fines per employee.

DeSantis wants to do the opposite for unvaccinated -- giving officers a signing bonus to take a job in question.

“If you’re not being treated well, we’ll treat you better here, you can fill important needs for us, and we’ll compensate you as a result,” he said. “On a scientific basis, most of those first responders have had COVID and have recovered. So they have strong protection, and so I think that influences their decision.”