Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ law enforcement recruitment program, initiated last year, has successfully attracted police officers from all 50 states and two U.S. territories to join Florida’s law enforcement ranks. The Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Program, which offers financial incentives for officers to relocate to Florida or enter the profession, has experienced remarkable nationwide participation. This year, additional funding was allocated by the state legislature to further expand and sustain the program.
In a statement, Governor DeSantis emphasized the importance of supporting law enforcement, saying, “With a national lack of support for the important work law enforcement officers do daily, Florida has stood up for what is right. Our back-the-blue policies have brought officers from all 50 states and two U.S. territories to Florida. We will continue to support law and order and make investments in the people that keep our communities safe.”
Florida has disbursed more than 3,350 bonuses, each worth $5,000 after taxes, through the program. So far, over $22.5 million has been awarded to recruits and law enforcement officers who have relocated to Florida to serve the state.
Of the 3,350 new officers in Florida, 915 officers have moved from other states, including 47 from Illinois. In response to the program, Florida launched billboards in the Greater Chicago area in September, where crime rates are among the highest in the U.S. This initiative was prompted by Illinois enacting a law that allowed illegal foreign nationals and noncitizens to become police officers and eliminating its cash bail system, making Florida an attractive option for law enforcement officers.
Since the billboard campaign began, three former Illinois officers have already relocated to Florida, as the state enjoys a 50-year record low crime rate while Illinois grapples with rising crime levels.
Florida Commerce Secretary J. Alex Kelly praised Governor DeSantis’ leadership, stating, “Under Governor Ron DeSantis’ leadership, 915 people from across the nation have relocated to Florida to be law enforcement officers in our great state. When states threaten to defund their police, they not only put their communities in danger but also the very lives of those who work so hard to protect them — I am proud that many have moved to Florida to pursue their careers because they know they will be supported.”
The recruitment program has also attracted hundreds of recruits from Democratic-led states such as California, New York, and Pennsylvania, seeking to join Florida’s law enforcement community.
Florida offers a range of benefits to law enforcement officers, including financial stability, upward mobility, excellent health and retirement benefits, student loan forgiveness programs, home loan programs, and the Hometown Heroes program, which assists first-time homebuyers who are law enforcement officers, firefighters, military veterans, and active-duty military personnel in purchasing their first homes in the communities they serve. The program includes down payment and closing cost assistance to eligible homebuyers.