The Florida House on Wednesday approved a plan to try to attract law enforcement officers from across the country and to help retain officers.
House members voted 108-4 to approve the proposal (HB 3), which would establish a bonus program to provide one-time payments of up to $5,000 to newly employed law-enforcement officers, along with bonuses for officers who adopt children.
“In Florida, we don’t cancel cops,” said bill sponsor Tom Leek, an Ormond Beach Republican who added that a “vocal few” people the past two years have vilified law enforcement.
The proposal also would set up a Florida Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program to cover basic training tuition and fees for new officers.
Rep. Patricia Williams, a Pompano Beach Democrat who cast one of the four dissenting votes, unsuccessfully tried to amend the proposal to require agencies to review complete employment records of new hires, including disciplinary actions, complaints or investigations into conduct, and for recruits with military backgrounds to pass psychological examinations.
Under the proposal, the state Department of Economic Opportunity would develop minimum eligibility requirements for newly employed officers to get bonus payments.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is up for re-election this year, has made beefing up law enforcement a hallmark of his policies through such things as the proposed $5,000 signing bonuses.
Under Leek’s bill, officers also could draw $10,000 for adopting through the state child welfare system, with the benefit growing to $25,000 for adopting children with special needs.