FIRST ON FOX: Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ office is launching billboards in Illinois to encourage law enforcement officers in the state to “make the smart move” to Florida after Chicago has allowed noncitizens to become officers and eliminated cash bail.
“Citizenship Matters. Law Enforcement Matters,” the billboards in Chicago say. “Make the Smart Move to Florida!”
The billboards tout a $5,000 signing bonus for out-of-state police officers who relocate to the Sunshine State as part of its law enforcement recruitment bonus payment program signed into law by the Republican governor in 2022.
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In a statement, DeSantis cited moves in Illinois to allow some noncitizens to become police officers and the elimination of its cash bail system, policies DeSantis’ administration has rejected.
“Florida strongly supports law enforcement and has consistently enacted commonsense criminal justice policies to keep our communities safe,” said DeSantis, who is running for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
“We stand behind our citizen officers, and we give them the tools to succeed professionally and personally. Other states deputize noncitizens, enact policies that favor criminals over victims and work to overtly or covertly defund the police, but not in Florida. I look forward to welcoming the Illinois men and women in blue to the law-and-order state.”
Illinois’ legislation to remove citizenship as a requirement to become a police officer will become effective in 2024 despite opposition from Republicans and some police groups.
The bill “provides that an individual who is not a citizen but is legally authorized to work in the United States under federal law is authorized to apply for the position of police officer, subject to all requirements and limitations, other than citizenship, to which other applicants are subject.”
It adds that non-U.S. citizens must be able to obtain, carry, purchase or otherwise possess a gun under federal law to apply for the job.
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Cash bail will also end Jan 1 after the bill survived a legal challenge from prosecutors and sheriffs in counties who said the law was unconstitutional, diminished public safety and put law enforcement at risk. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said the move means pretrial detainment will be based on “the danger an individual poses to the community instead of by their ability to pay their way out of jail.”
Florida’s recruitment drive is bringing results to the state. More than 2,700 law enforcement recruits from 48 states have moved to Florida, according to DeSantis’ office, including 230 from California, New York and Pennsylvania. At least 37 have moved from Illinois.
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DeSantis also went on a pro-police tour in Democrat-run communities, including Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, a Philadelphia suburb, and Elmhurst, Illinois, near Chicago.
“Anybody who’s interested in coming down,” he said at the event in Chicago. “If you want to be part of our law enforcement community, just know that the door is open.”
Fox News’ Matt Leach contributed to this report.