Report Claims Ron DeSantis' Police Relocation Program Lured Officers with Violent Records to Florida
Among the officers who moved to Florida for the program, a new report claims, at least two dozen had previously been subject to complaints, with allegations ranging from excessive force to racial profiling
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis proudly championed a $13.5 million police relocation program — and according to a new report, it led to the state hiring a handful of police officers with violent records.
The program began in 2021 and was meant to incentivize law enforcement officers outside Florida to move to the state amid the COVID-19 pandemic, offering them bonuses of upwards of $5,000 to do so. In April, DeSantis announced that at least 530 officers had relocated from other states and territories to Florida due to the program. More than 1,750 new recruits, he said, had received bonuses through the program.
“I’m proud to announce that more than 1,750 new law enforcement officers have received bonuses through the Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus Program,” DeSantis said in April, calling Florida "first in the nation in law enforcement recruitment because of our focus on back-the-blue initiatives that make our law enforcement officers feel supported by their communities."
But a Daily Dot report shows that, among those officers who moved to the state as part of the program, at least two dozen had previously been subject to complaints while employed by other law enforcement agencies — with allegations ranging from excessive force to racial profiling.
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The Daily Dot details the backgrounds of several of those officers, including one who allegedly plowed his car into Black Lives Matter protesters in New York City in July 2021, injuring a teen in the process. That officer was signed to a police department near Orlando just one year later, receiving a $6,693.44 bonus check.
Others, the Dot reports, had complaints against them that involved things like sexual extortion before making the move to Florida.
According to reports reviewed by the Dot, at least two dozen officers who received bonuses in Florida have names that also appear in the NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) database. Some of those officers have been accused (prior to their move to Florida) of petty theft and illegally detaining peaceful protestors.
One of the officers, the Dot reports, was the subject of 6 formal complaints comprising 9 accusations(including overuse of physical force) while working in New York, prior to making the move to Florida to join an agency there.
Another officer identified by the Dot was accused of making a sexual proposition toward an individual in April 2021, while employed by the NYPD, and was among a number of officers involved in a $160,000 settlement for allegedly illegally detaining a peaceful protestor and then "punching him."
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That officer was hired by the Palm Beach Police Department the same month he left the NYPD. (An internal investigation into the sexual proposition was ultimately dropped, the Dot notes, and the Palm Beach Police Department told the outlet the officer was "exemplary.")
The report about the program championed by DeSantis comes as the Florida governor is expected to launch his 2024 presidential bid, with an official campaign video expected Wednesday evening.
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