TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida state law enforcement officers won't be seeing $1,000 bonus checks this year, but they are receiving a pay raise — the first in years.
These bonus checks would have been the second round of federally funded first-responder bonuses received by state police. In 2021, both local and state first responders received bonuses of the same amount.
However, this year state law enforcement is excluded.
This comes despite Gov. Ron DeSantis' recommendation that bonuses be given to all law enforcement at both the state and local level, according to Bryan Griffin, deputy press secretary for the governor's office.
In his recommended appropriations bill for 2022-2023, DeSantis proposed $1,000 checks for "essential first responders" including any individual "who is a first responder, considered an essential frontline worker in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and employed by a state or local government who is a sworn law enforcement officer, emergency medical technician, firefighter..."
"Unquestionably, the governor is a great advocate for supporting state and local law enforcement, and enticing those in the career to move to Florida from across the nation," Griffin wrote in an email.
He directed questions on what was funded by the Florida Legislature in conference to lawmakers. 10 Tampa Bay reached out to both the offices of the Florida House and Senate but has not yet received a response.
Jenna Sarkissian, communications director for the House Speaker's office, told the Orlando Sentinel, which first reported on the issue, that state law enforcement officers are getting permanent raises across the board "in lieu of" the bonus this year.
This 15% pay raise is a permanent, recurring salary increase for all state officers, according to Griffin. The 15% is the average increase for state-sworn LEOs.
This number accounts for the 5.38% raise for all state employees and the increase to a minimum officer pay of $50,000 or a 5% increase, whichever is greatest, he wrote in the email.
This raises the average base pay for about 4,300 eligible officers from $52,623 to $60,492. The Sentinel reported House officials proposed the raise for state officers and offered the bonus to local officers — the Legislature has no control over local law enforcement pay.
The opinions of state law enforcement across Florida on this pay raise and lack of a bonus are mixed.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that people were upset by the exclusion of state LEOs from the second round of bonuses. Lisa Henning, a lobbyist for the Fraternal Order of Police, which represents 22,000 state and local law enforcement, told the paper people were disappointed and concerned for FDLE officers.
She also told the Orlando Sentinel that she feels frustrated by the lack of transparency in the budget process.
Other state law enforcement agencies are excited about the pay raise, which they are calling historic.
Aaron Keller, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles communications director, wrote in an email that the pay raises that Florida Highway Patrol troopers along with all state LEOs are receiving are "by far the largest pay raises in the history of the Florida Highway Patrol."
"Thanks to the leadership of Governor DeSantis and the Florida Legislature, the starting pay for Florida Highway Patrol Troopers was raised to $50,000 and existing troopers received total salary increases of anywhere between 10.7 and 31.5 percent," Keller wrote.
On top of this, he wrote that $5,000 competitive market pay additives were approved for FHP troopers in four additional counties, which brought the total to over 30 counties eligible for pay additives.
Paul Walker, the Florida Department of Corrections press secretary, wrote in an email that the FDC "received record pay increases to retain and recruit public servants to continue the agency’s crucial public safety mission," because of DeSantis' Freedom First Budget.
“Never in my career have I seen such significant support for our officers and staff. Governor DeSantis understands our needs and took bold action to provide vital pay increases for our officers,” Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Ricky Dixon said. “The Governor’s steadfast support for the courageous men and women of this agency, combined with the backing from the Florida Legislature, have secured a pathway for our success.”
David Fierro, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement communications coordinator wrote in an email that the historic recurring pay increase was greatly appreciated.
Rob Klepper, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission communications lead, wrote in an email: "We are grateful for Governor DeSantis’ historic pay raises and continued support for state employees."