Why Now is a Great Time to Become a Florida Police Officer
By Dr. Jarrod Sadulski
faculty member, criminal justice
There are many incentives to become a police officer in Florida. Law enforcement agencies in this state offer very competitive salaries compared to agencies in other states, comprehensive medical plans, and excellent retirement plans. Additionally, Florida does not impose income tax on its residents.
DROP allows police officers to earn two incomes simultaneously
Many law enforcement agencies continue to offer the Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP). This program is a retirement benefit within agency retirement systems, such as the Florida Retirement System (FRS). It allows participants to accumulate benefits in the FRS Trust Fund, so your funds can earn interest while you continue to work for up to five years.
Ultimately, DROP allows participants to continue working while accumulating a savings account that collects the money they would receive in retirement. Leaders can earn two incomes at the same time while one of them is invested tax-free. The “My Florida” website has more information about DROP.
Florida Now Offers $5,000 Bonus and Other Perks for Being a Florida Police Officer
Another major incentive to become a police officer in Florida is that Governor Ron DeSantis recently announced new legislation under which newly hired law enforcement officers will receive a $5,000 bonus to become a police officer in Florida, according to WSTP News at Tampa. This bonus is in addition to the $1,000 bonus Florida police officers have already received over the past two years.
During a press briefing regarding the new $5,000 bonus, Governor DeSantis said, “We have defended this as a noble profession. We want to support the people who protect us. For experienced police officers in cities and agencies that have been financially impacted, this incentive can be very attractive.
According to WSTP News, DeSantis’ new legislation offers additional benefits:
- A scholarship for police trainees
- A reimbursement program to help police officers cover training costs associated with relocating to the state
- An exemption for veterans and college graduates with associate degrees from taking the basic skills test that is otherwise required before entering recruiting
Florida facilitates the transfer of other police officers
Florida also allows other police officers from other states and the federal government to transfer and work as a police officer in Florida through the training equivalency process. This process allows previously certified out-of-state officers, federal officers, and Florida officers who had a four-year service gap to be certified by the state without having to attend the recruiting academy full base.
According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, officers may be exempt from basic training requirements if they were out-of-state or federal law enforcement officers. Applicants must meet these standards:
- The police officer must have worked at least one year as a full-time sworn police officer.
- The police officer must have received training in this discipline comparable to the full Florida Basic Recruit Training program or must have already completed the full Florida Basic Recruit Training program and been certified in Florida.
- The officer must not have more than eight years of break in service since the last separation from a sworn position.
Eligible agents who want to work in Florida will need to apply, demonstrate proficiency in high responsibility areas, and pass the Florida certification test.
Remember to do your research
It is essential to remember that different geographic areas in Florida have a major impact on agency culture and operations. If you want to become a police officer in Florida, research agencies and communities to ensure that where you plan to seek work will be a good fit based on your background and experience.