LAKELAND, FL. – Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, has for months, led an effort to recruit frustrated out-of-state police officers who feel handcuffed by liberal crime and COVID-19 policies, including a proposed $5,000 bonus that he hopes to push through the Legislature next year.
The Lakeland Police Department in Central Florida reveals what the fruit of such labors looks like.
The New York Post recently reported that Lakeland, which had its own aggressive recruiting campaign, has lured more than a dozen of New York City’s former finest to patrol its streets.
Fourteen former NYPD officers have fled the Big Apple in the past year in response to Lakeland’s overtures – including 12 just in the last two months.
It’s “part of a nationwide trend of disgruntled officers finding greener pastures in pro-police communities,” the Post noted, adding that Lakeland actually sent a delegation to Gotham City to lure away some of the folks in blue.
According to the Post, one of them was former NYPD officer Matthew Spoto, who at a press conference at Lakeland PD headquarters, and flanked by DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody, said the reception he got in Florida was an “eye-opener.”
“I realized very quickly that the job was not what I expected, only because I wanted to do all these things to help people, and the rules and the laws that were set in front of me, did not allow me to do so. So looking into other options, knowing that I still wanted to be in law enforcement, knowing that I still wanted to help people, I wanted to see what I can do to progress my career, and I’m happy to say that I found a home here in Florida,” said Spoto.
Lakeland Assistant Police Chief Hans Lehman said to The Free Press, “Last spring, we did just about every recruiting thing you could do, and the only thing we hadn’t done is take our recruiting trip on the road.”
“With the way things were in New York last in the springtime, this was pre-vaccine mandate, we just figured that was a pretty good target area with 35,000 to 40,000 police officers in one area,” Lehman said.
Not only are they accorded more respect, though. The former NYPD officers came to Florida to make more money.
The Post noted that in NYC, cops start at $42,500 a year. In Lakeland, Lehman said that the City and union agreed to a new contract with a starting salary of $53,700.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office in Washington state recently ran an ad in Times Square offering NYPD officers a $15,000 signing bonus, encouraging them to flee New York’s “anti-cop environment and vaccine mandate.”
Meanwhile, Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy, a Republican, and GOP Sen. Mike Braun of Indiana have each taken to Twitter to invite unhappy New York cops to come work in their respective states.
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