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Florida Gives Recruiting Bonuses to Questionable Police Hires

Likely presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, signed into law last year a policy he touted as the "strongest law enforcement recruitment and support initiative in the nation," recruiting bonuses offered as a response to unhappiness in police ranks over pandemic restrictions and policing protests in other parts of the country. “If you’re being mistreated, you’re not being supported — whether you’re on the West Coast, whether you’re in New York, whether you’re in Chicago, any of these places — if you’re qualified and you can fill a spot here, you know, we’re gonna get your back,“ DeSantis said in April when announcing more than 1,750 bonuses had been awarded. “We’ve stood for this being a noble profession. We want to support the folks who are protecting us.”


While police from across the nation answered the call, a number brought with them checkered pasts or new criminal problems, the Daily Dot reports. Justin Burgos, who plowed his car into Black Lives Matter protesters in New York City, injuring a teen, has been hired by the Apopka Police Department outside Orlando, which paid him a bonus of $6,693.44. Josh Bogwandas was hired by the Miramar Police Department in December of 2022. He too received the same $6,693.44 check. Six months later, police came to his door, a woman calling 911 after escaping from his alleged abuse. Chloe Davidson joined the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department on August 5, 2022. Five months later, Santa Rosa County Police came to her door, after responding to a domestic disturbance. Her husband had been shot dead, and Davidson was booked on felony murder charges after police found no evidence she acted in self-defense. She, too, received a nearly $7,000 check from the state. Other officers have had numerous complaints against them, ranging from excessive force to false imprisonment to sexual extortion. In the list of bonus recipients, the Daily Dot found at least two dozen officers with identical names that also appear in NYPD’s Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) database, a searchable site run by New York City that makes public reports filed against officers for things like excessive use of force and racial profiling. The complaints against names in the database and on the bonus list include accusations that officers unlawfully pepper sprayed, assaulted, and pointed their firearms at suspects, as well as used chokeholds and offensive language regarding race and ethnicity. Allegations were also made that officer propositioned individuals for sex and performed unwarranted strip searches.

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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