A bill offering a slew of state-funded benefits designed to bolster police recruitment in Florida passed its second House committee.
HB 3which has been one of the centerpieces of Gov. Ron DeSantis legislative priorities, passed the House Appropriations Committee unanimously on Monday.
The bill offers a slew of monetary incentives to state officials and out-of-state officials who wish to relocate.
As part of the measure, Florida would offer recruits a benefits package, including a one-time $5,000 bonus for newcomers and a $1,000 reimbursement program for out-of-state officers. who certify in Florida. It also increases the base salary of sheriffs and sheriff’s deputies by $5,000.
Rep. Republican. Thomas Leekthe bill’s sponsor, said the bill would show state support for law enforcement.
“Today we have the opportunity to make Florida one of the most law enforcement-friendly states in the nation,” Leek said. “We must remember that we enjoy the daily blessings and freedoms of our communities through the men and women of law enforcement.”
During public comments, five Florida sheriffs came out to speak in favor of the bill. Bobby McCallumLevy County Sheriff and president of the Florida Sheriffs Association, said the bill could help address law enforcement recruitment challenges statewide.
“It gives us hope in recruiting the best we can find,” McCallum said. “It gives them hope that the state will continue to have their backs and their support.”
The bill would also create the Florida Law Enforcement Academy Scholarship Program. The scholarship would cover up to $1,000 towards tuition, fees, and other expenses related to the police academy.
Among other provisions, the bill would further provide private scholarships to children of police officers and allow schools to award college credits to cops based on their training and experience. He would also implore school districts to create law enforcement exploration programs in schools and designate May Day as “Law Enforcement Appreciation Day.”
While supporting the bill, the Democratic Rep. Patricia Williams said she wanted to ensure that officers recruited from out of state undergo thorough background checks, as well as mental health screenings to ensure they meet law enforcement standards. Florida Order. She cited instances with bad officers who didn’t care about her neighborhood as a child.
“When it was time for the officers to come to my neighborhood, they didn’t come to protect, they came to destroy,” she said.
The bill’s next stop is the House Judiciary Committee.