TAMPA, Fla. — The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is hoping to entice people around the country to come work for them. They say the need is significant.
Sheriff Chad Chronister says right now, they are short 334 deputies, and finding recruits is more challenging than ever.
“I think that law enforcement has just become an unpopular career choice when you can make the same amount of money sitting at home and working at your own pace. It’s hard to compete with that," said Chronister.
The George Floyd murder and the civil unrest that followed have led many in law enforcement to leave the job. It’s also tough for agencies in Florida to keep up with the state’s population growth.
But Thursday, Attorney General Ashley Moody announced a new recruitment plan to try and bring in police from around the country. The state launched a recruiting website.
“It’s a first of its kind one-stop-shop. If you’re interested in coming to law enforcement, whether you are out of state or whether you already live here, if you go anywhere on our interactive map and click on a county, it will show you every law enforcement vacancy," said Attorney General Ashley Moody.
State officials are hoping cops in places like New York City, who might be unhappy with working conditions, will come to Florida.
The Lakeland Police Department just went on a recruiting trip there and hired 17 new officers, one short of filling all its openings.
“And when you talk to those officers, it’s both uplifting and sad to see the conditions they are working in. And how happy they are now to help serve the citizens of Florida," said Lakeland PD Chief Ruben Garcia.
To help recruit police officers to Florida, agencies are hoping the state will fund signing bonuses, moving expenses, and better medical benefits. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office is already offering all of those enticements.
We checked with some agencies and the Tampa Police Department says they have 46 openings.
The Pasco County Sheriff's Office tells ABC Action News they have six openings for deputies and 16 for detention deputies.