DeSantis denies report on luring unvaccinated cops


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — Gov. Ron DeSantis responded to reports that the Florida governor was offering $5,000 signing bonuses for out-of-state officers who wanted to escape vaccine mandates in their areas.

In his response during a news conference Monday, he said the proposed bonus was for any new police officer in the state of Florida, as reported by NewsNation affiliate WFLA back in September.

“This has nothing to do with their vaccination status, so that’s just wrong,” the governor said in response to the claim.

DeSantis previously said the proposed bonus was part of three programs that would be proposed in the next state legislative session to help improve police recruitment in Florida, with an added focus on recruiting from outside the state of Florida.

“The reason we’re doing it is because people are being treated poorly in Seattle, in Minnesota, in (the) NYPD,” he said. “They don’t have the support. They’ve had their funding cut.”

While the governor said he didn’t believe officers should be fired for not getting vaccinated for COVID-19, the reasoning stems more from the backlash against police officers over accusations of racial bias, particularly during the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in 2020.

“I think that’s wrong for sure, but our $5,000 bonus, that applies to anyone,” DeSantis said. “If you’re in NYPD and you’re not getting the support you need and you’re qualified, you come down here. You’re gonna get a bonus because we got your back.”

When WFLA asked for further clarification, the governor’s office issued a lengthy statement regarding the governor’s remarks. It said, in part:

To clear up the confusion here: This bonus proposed by the governor would be available to unvaccinated AND vaccinated individuals who get hired by state and local law enforcement agencies in Florida. Therefore, law enforcement officers from other states who were fired due to vaccine mandates would be eligible for this bonus in Florida, but so would law enforcement officers from other states who move here for different reasons. No one will be asked to verify their vaccination status as a condition of hiring or employment at Florida’s state and local law enforcement agencies.

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