As police departments around the country wrestle with protests and anti-police sentiment, one state is fighting back.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed announced this week that the state would give $1,000 bonuses to police officers in the state. DeSantis’ office said that bonus would also extend to “174,000 first responders, including law enforcement officers, paramedics, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and firefighters across the state” as a way to support their hard work during the pandemic.
DeSantis announced the payments at a press conference, saying “Some want to defund the police. We’re funding the police and then some.”
“Supporting our law enforcement and first responders has been a top priority for my administration, and it has never been more important than over the last year,” DeSantis said. “As a state, we are grateful for their continued service to our communities. This one-time bonus is a small token of appreciation, but we can never go far enough to express our gratitude for their selflessness.”
DeSantis called for the payments in March of this year and included them in this year’s budget, though that budget has not been officially signed yet.
The state has set aside $208 million for the payments, which DeSantis’ office said will be distributed to “49,405 sworn law enforcement officers, 40,732 EMTs, 35,811 firefighters and 33,185 paramedics” in the state of Florida.
“Our first responders worked tirelessly through the pandemic to meet the needs of our communities,” said State Rep. Jay Trumbull, Chair of the House Appropriations Committee. “In this year’s budget the Legislature affirmed our commitment to our first responders, and I am proud that we met the Governor’s request to provide them with bonuses to show our appreciation for their hard work and dedication to Florida.”
The first responder community praised DeSantis and the state’s leaders for their support.
“When the Coronavirus came to Florida, our first responders worked overtime to protect our communities and get people the care they so desperately needed,” said Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis. “I say all the time that these men and women work 24/7, 365-days a year to protect our communities – and they performed with honor and distinction during this global pandemic. The bonus checks that Governor DeSantis proposed, and secured from the Legislature, means a lot to these first responders and their families who had to live through this crisis. With his hard work, the Governor has made it very clear that Florida loves and appreciates our first responders, which means a lot to these heroes.”