In November 2024, we choose our next President. However, the November 5th election is really just the culmination of a much longer tale – one that starts taking shape now. Before that final, binary contest, the primaries process will be the one to truly set the tone for our political future. For police officers, this may mean a renewed promise or a deepening of the toxic conversations on “defunding” that have overtaken the headlines over the past four years.
In this context, it is important to look carefully at each primary contender and examine where they stand on the issue of law enforcement. Will they support police officers? Will they sell them out as soon as convenient? Will they give us the tools we need to build a safer America?
About Ron DeSantis
If there’s one thing that immediately catches the eye about Ron DeSantis, it is that we don’t need to imagine what he’d be like in office. His time as Governor of Florida has given him ample opportunity to show his mettle, both in speech and in action.
Before he was a statesman, Ron DeSantis was a man of service. He first enlisted in the U.S. Navy while still attending Harvard Law School. His military career ran its course for over 6 years, and during this time, he was tasked with a series of delicate, specialized tasks. He served in Iraq and provided legal counsel to Counter-Terrorism units – a necessary, yet unglamorous job that brought him under media scrutiny early on.
Perhaps this experience put him closer to a law enforcement officer’s perspective: he saw firsthand that sometimes safety demands unpopular actions. Later on, after he rose to the U.S. House of Representatives, he continuously stood behind ICE and Homeland Security and defended them from any attempts to curtail their powers.
In 2018, he was finally afforded his first major chance to leave his mark: he won the 2018 Florida gubernatorial election. Even in this campaign, he put law and order issues front and center, by openly challenging sanctuary city protections and improving law-abiding citizens’ access to firearms.
What Does Ron DeSantis Have to Say about Safety and the Rule of Law?
Ron DeSantis has always been openly pro-police and has remained highly critical of any legislative initiatives meant to curtail, defund, or defang police departments.
As his career brought him to national relevance, his statements and priorities have carried an increasing weight with voters and political leaders alike. One of his strongest points has been his management of the economy: his State was one of the few that evaded recession during the dark Covid-19 years.
Even in this aspect, he does not forget law enforcement agencies, stressing their role in a robust economy:
“You’re not going to have a good economy if the streets aren’t safe. You’re not going to get a good education if people don’t feel safe. None of it works unless you have the foundation.”
One of his publicly-stated goals – to boost police recruitment across the State – has occasionally brought him renewed controversy.
In 2021, during the Covid-19 vaccine mandate debate, he openly derided any attempts to make vaccination mandatory for police officers (as was done in Chicago and New York), believing it to be a personal choice. As further proof of his position, he also offered recruitment bonuses of up to $5,000 for any unvaccinated police officers who relocated to Florida after losing their jobs to a vaccine mandate.
These positions won him widespread police support from the beginning. For the 2018 election, the Florida Police Chiefs Association endorsed his candidacy. For the current primaries, they were joined by the Fraternal Order of Police, whose different chapters often host him for rallies and public speeches.
Can He Back This Up with Action?
So far, there seems to be enough talk to paint DeSantis as a “defender of the blue.” But if we’re to properly examine DeSantis’ mettle, we need to go one step further and look at his actions. When push came to shove, did his signature find his way into pro-police initiatives?
Here, the answer is an unequivocal “yes.” As governor of Florida, DeSantis has signed and even sponsored several key bills meant to strengthen law enforcement acting powers.
The most popular one, undoubtedly, is his support for officer recruitment. And while $5,000 can go a long way for blue-collar Americans, his work didn’t stop there. He also:
- Gave a $1,000 bonus to all Florida police officers, firefighters, and paramedics
- Pushed the Combating Public Disorder Act, meant to prevent riots and looting in the wake of the 2020 “Defund the Police” protests
- Provided important background legislation to facilitate Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) operations within his state.
- Gave a significant financial boost to the Florida National Guard and reactivated the Florida State Guard
And yet, a couple of incidents mar what could have been a stellar record. He exercised his veto power to block two bills, which would assign extra funds for a new training facility in Pinellas County, and a new police station in South Miami.
Where should you stand in this election?
The 2024 Presidential Election may very well be the last nail in the coffin for those who push anti-police narratives – or it may embolden them if it proves to be an efficient political tactic. Ultimately, the only way to combat this is to ensure we elect a candidate who is willing and eager to stand up for law enforcement. We also need to be visible and outspoken about our position: politicians and fellow citizens alike should know who we support and why. This should not wait until the final election: the time to ensure we get the right candidate is now!
Image Credit: Photo by Gage Skidmore on Flickr