TAMPA, Fla. — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody is encouraging law enforcement officers across the country to come "be a Florida hero."
That's the name of a new nationwide recruiting effort the state's top legal officer announced Thursday at the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. She was joined by Sheriff Chad Chronister and other local and state law enforcement agencies to talk about the new program.
“Right now across the nation, we are experiencing law enforcement vacancies," Moody said.
She cited "increased vocal opposition and criticism of law enforcement as a whole” as one of the many reasons for the supposed decline in employment.
The initiative aims to seek out law enforcement officers across the country who may be "fed up" with a lack of support from city leaders and bring them to Florida, according to the state's top cop.
“Come join us. Come be a Florida hero. Come to a state where we will celebrate and support your service," Moody said.
Moody also mentioned that Florida is willing to offer signing bonuses and pay for training, certification exams, and even relocation costs for officers who choose to come serve in the Sunshine State.
Chronister echoed the attorney general, adding that “We all face the unfortunate obstacle of recruitment. We all face manpower shortages."
He said that even an agency as large as the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is about 330 deputies short.
This announcement comes at a time when law enforcement is facing widespread criticism for their policing practices.
The issue came to a head during the summer of 2020 when protests broke out across the country calling for law enforcement reform in the wake of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of police.
Law enforcement agencies across the country have said that this increased level of scrutiny has led officers across the country to leave the police force in droves, though federal data reportedly shows this isn't true.
As Time magazine reports, in partnership with The Marshall Project, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows local police departments lost just under 1 percent of employees last year as the overall U.S. economy lost about 6 percent of workers.
That decrease is much smaller than the employment for industries like healthcare, education and restaurants.
Watch the full announcement below.