‘We’re funding the police and then some’: Gov. DeSantis announces $1K bonuses for first responders

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SATELLITE BEACH, FL – Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced that, unlike many states that are defunding police, Florida will be providing $1,000 bonus checks to every police officer, firefighter, paramedic, and emergency medical technician in the state.

Making the announcement from the Satellite Beach Police Department in Brevard County, Gov. DeSantis said:

“Some want to defund the police; we’re funding the police and then some, and that’s what we’re here today to say.”

In March, the governor proposed using money from Florida’s federal stimulus package to provide first responders with bonuses, saying they earned the financial boost with their work during the pandemic. The legislature agreed and passed the proposal.

At the press conference held Wednesday, DeSantis was joined by police officials from around the state who applauded the $1,000 bonuses.

DeSantis also commented on another piece of legislation passed in support of law enforcement. He applauded the state’s passage of the “Anti-Riot” Act, which places tougher penalties on protesters who engage in violent rallies.

He praised a provision in the “Anti-Riot” Act that prevents local governments from defunding police:

“There is a very strong provision in there that said, ‘We are not going to let local governments defund law enforcement.’

“We are going to make sure that at the state level, we protect our communities, and if you try to do it, we are going to fight back, and we are going to defend the people of this state.”

The Governor said that, beyond the “Anti-Riot” Act, he wanted to reward first responders for working through the pandemic at a time when many other people did not have to:

“The other thing that we fought for was the recognition that when the Coronavirus pandemic hit, you had some people, and I don’t begrudge them from doing this, but you had some people working for different companies or whatever, they would just work on Zoom from their bedroom or from their living room.

“Well, the people that wear the uniform did not have that luxury. They were out there every single day. Our police, our fire, our EMTs, they were out there every single day. They had to work more than they ever have.”

Gov. DeSantis said that police not only had to work during the pandemic keeping the country safe, but they had to face violence and hatred while doing so:

“(Police) not only had to deal with protecting us when the pandemic hit, but then, obviously, how the police were treated last year in many parts of the country which was a total disgrace.”

Recognizing the service the officers and other first responders provide to the community, the Governor asked the legislature to provide a bonus to them, saying Florida always has the back of law enforcement:

“They (police) had to put the uniform on. Yes, they knew the State of Florida had their back and I think we did much better in Florida, but if you look at what a lot of these police officers are dealing with now, it’s terrible.

“So, I thought it was important to recognize the service, to recognize the sacrifice.”

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Sacramento proposes city’s highest-ever police budget – despite overwhelming calls to ‘defund’ them

May 3, 2021

 

SACRAMENTO, CA – Despite establishing a new mental health response unit and pulling approximately $10 million away from the police department over two years, the Sacramento Police Department’s budget is set to hit an all-time-high $165.8 million in the upcoming fiscal year.

City Manager Howard Chan proposed a $1.3 billion budget for the city for the upcoming fiscal year beginning July 1. Included in the budget is a $9.4 million increase in the police budget including the hiring of five new sworn officers, funding for replacement of police vehicles, and a 3.5% raise for officers per a December union contract.

The new hires would bring the department to 756 officers.

In addition to the five new officers, the budget details funding for necessary equipment, such as body cameras, set at $1.6 million, and additional IT infrastructures such as data storage, software, and backup solutions, coming in at $1.5 million.

The budget also included $880, 740 for “less-than-lethal” equipment.

The outcry following the death of George Floyd while being arrested in Minneapolis in May 2020 led to a summer of violence, riots, and protests across the country, including in Sacramento, demanding the “defunding” of police.

Activists called for cities to pull funding from police and create civil programs, such as unarmed mental health responders, to be sent to certain incidents.

Despite calls to defund police departments by left-wing groups and Democratic politicians, most U.S. cities have been unwilling to cut their police budgets at a time of increased violent crime rates.

Although 18 major cities have reduced their police budgets, including  Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York City, Portland, Ore., and Austin, Texas; 24 cities increased their police spending for the fiscal year 2021, including Atlanta, Omaha, and Phoenix as of May 1.

According to data compiled by Bloomberg CityLab:

“Even as the 50 largest U.S. cities reduced their 2021 police budgets by 5.2% in aggregate, often as part of broader pandemic cost-cutting initiatives, law enforcement spending as a share of general expenditures rose slightly to 13.7% from 13.6%.

“And many cities like Minneapolis and Seattle have watered down or put on pause changes that were proposed or even passed at the height of the 2020 demonstrations against racism and police brutality.”

In Sacramento, the budget still must be approved by the City Council, a heavy lift in the Democratic stronghold. Councilwoman Katie Valenzuela has already said she would not vote to approve the new budget with an increase for the police:

“To put more money into law enforcement when we’ve said as a city we want to move in another direction, it doesn’t line up.”

The city created a Department of Community Response in response to police reform protests and riots over the summer. The new unit will respond to 911 calls involving mental health issues, homelessness, and domestic violence.

Law enforcement leaders throughout the country have expressed concerns over unarmed mental health responses, concerned about the uncertain and dangerous circumstances that can develop during such incidents unexpectedly.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg proposed the Department of Community Response claiming $10 million would be diverted from the police budget within two years. Steinberg admitted Wednesday that the diversion of funds did not mean the police budget would shrink:

“I’m not for ‘defunding. There are some things that are part of running a city, like collective bargaining and binding arbitration, and genuine needs for the police department.”

“I’m not going to get pinned to the argument that the measure of whether or not we are investing in the community in an aggressive way is whether or not we’re taking the money directly from the police department.”

In the proposed budget, the Department of Community Response has $5.8 million in funding, including 23 employees. So far it has eight full-time employees and one part-time. The unit has not yet taken over responses to 911 calls, but has been leading the city’s homeless initiatives, Steinberg said. 

 

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