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Governor Ron DeSantis Proposes Increases In Law Enforcement Pay, $1,000 Bonuses For First Responders

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) -- Promoting Florida as "greener pastures" for law-enforcement officers, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday teased a plan for salary increases and bonuses as part of his upcoming budget proposal.

DeSantis said the budget he will propose next week for the 2022 legislative session will include $73 million to increase pay for officers at the Florida Highway Patrol, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Minimum pay for entry-level officers would increase by 20 percent, while salaries of veteran officers would go up 25 percent.

The proposal also will include a second round of $1,000 bonuses for first responders as a show of appreciation for work during the COVID-19 pandemic, including law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians, and firefighters.

"Last summer, we made clear we had their (law enforcement officers') back. We wanted to make sure our communities were kept safe," DeSantis said while flanked by officers and motorcycles inside the Florida Highway Patrol Troop D building in Orlando. "And we wanted to show our appreciation that as other jurisdictions were defunding law enforcement, or taking money away, that we would fund and then some."

DeSantis' budget proposal will serve as a starting point for lawmakers, who will negotiate a final spending plan for the fiscal year that will start July. DeSantis also has rolled out portions of his environmental and education budget proposals. The legislative session will start Jan. 11.

DeSantis on Monday reiterated his intention to secure $5,000 bonuses to help recruit and retain both state and local level law enforcement, along with scholarship aid for students in law-enforcement academies and free certification exams.

"We feel that we have an opportunity strategically, to get an advantage and to recruit, not just great people in our state to go into it, which we'll do, but also some of the best throughout the country, who are looking for greener pastures," DeSantis said.

The current average pay for a state trooper is about $45,000, while the average pay for troopers in all states is about $53,000.

In October, the state Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles made a $24.4 million funding request to the Legislature to boost pay for troopers to become more competitive with local law-enforcement agencies across the state.

(©2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida's Jim Turner contributed to this report.)

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