The Republican governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, plans to offer $5,000 bonuses to lure police officers from other states who resist vaccine mandates.
“We’re actually actively working to recruit out-of-state law enforcement,” DeSantis told Fox News.
Many US cities and government agencies have introduced vaccination mandates for public employees. Resistance among police officers and other first responders has been widely picked up by rightwing media figures and politicians using opposition to Covid public health measures to attack the Biden administration and other Democratic authorities.
“We do have needs in our police and our sheriff’s departments,” DeSantis said. “So, in the next legislative session, I’m going to hopefully sign legislation that gives a $5,000 bonus to any out-of-state law enforcement that relocates in Florida.
“NYPD [New York], Minneapolis, Seattle, if you’re not being treated well, we will treat you better here. You can fill important needs for us, and we will compensate you as a result.”
DeSantis polls strongly among Republican voters in surveys of possible presidential nominees for 2024. He has reached such a position by tightly aligning himself with Donald Trump, the former president who seems likely to run again.
Last week, video circulated showing the two men deploying similar gestures and rhetorical gambits. Like other Republican politicians in Trump’s shadow, DeSantis has attacked public health measures meant to combat Covid-19, which has killed more than 735,000 people in the US – and nearly 59,000 in Florida.
“We’ve been able to fight back very effectively against mandates imposed by for example local governments against police, fire,” DeSantis told Fox News.
“They’ve been working day in and day out, they couldn’t do their job on Zoom, they had to be there, and they did it and they did it with honor and integrity. Now, you have people that want to kick them out of their job over this shot, which is basically a personal decision.
“… Our policy is very clear we’re gonna have a special session, and we’re gonna say nobody should lose their job based off these injections, it’s a choice you can make, but we want to make sure we’re protecting your jobs and your livelihoods.”
DeSantis also claimed, “on a scientific basis” but without offering evidence, that “most of those first responders have had Covid and have recovered, so they have strong protection. And so I think that influences their decision on a lot of this, that they have already had it and recovered.”
Infection with Covid does increase immunity to re-infection but does not preclude it. A recent study found that previously infected people who were then vaccinated were better protected against re-infection than those who did not receive a shot.