Gov. Ron DeSantis traveled to Surfside, shown here, Jacksonville, and Pensacola to hand out $1,000 bonus checks (paid for with federal COVID aid) to first responders. Source: Screenshot/Florida Channel
Gov. Ron DeSantis promises law enforcement officers that “we’re not going to treat you as a political tool” in a campaign video that shows him distributing bonus checks to uniformed cops.
“Particularly with these young people, to make sure they understand that if this is something that you go into this, in Florida, this is something that we’re going to look up to you [garble]. We’re not going to denigrate you. We’re not going to treat you poorly. We’re not going to treat you as a political tool,” DeSantis says.
The short ad, posted Sunday to DeSantis’ Facebook feed, features footage of recent appearances in which the Republican governor merged his political role with campaigning, flanked by cops and political supporters.
The governor has traveled the state in recent months to hand over $1,000 bonus checks to police and other first-responders. He’s also offering financial support for officers moving to Florida from other states.
He has made a point of the fact that they have been on the front lines of public safety during COVID, in contrast to more comfortable, professional workers who can do their jobs remotely.
“You really can’t do that on Zoom. You got to be out there; you got to be responding. And so, I think they’ve really been leaders in these communities,” he said.
“The way a lot of, quite frankly, law enforcement were treated very poorly throughout the country, that we showed our appreciation here in the state of Florida for the folks that wore the uniform.”
The Florida Police Benevolent Association endorsed DeSantis for reelection in November.
DeSantis has made “law and order” a key part of his pitch for his own reelection next year (and possibly a run for president in 2024), notably persuading the Florida Legislature to approve an “anti-riot” bill following the nationwide protests over police brutality against minority communities during the Black Lives Matter summer of 2020.
The bill stiffened penalties for “disorderly” protests, rendering organizers subject to prosecution even if any disruptions were instigated by counterprotesters or police. A federal judge blocked enforcement in September, finding violations of the First Amendment and declaring the law “simply a trap for the innocent.”.
Among other culture-war pitches to the Trumpist GOP base, DeSantis is attempting to block the teaching of “critical race theory” in the public schools; asserted the authority of the state to intercede in federal immigration policy; and litigated and legislated against President Joe Biden’s workplace vaccination mandates.
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