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DeSantis heads to New York to kick off pro-police tour in blue cities

By Sarah May
|
February 20, 2023

In what will surely be viewed as another effort at bolstering his national profile ahead of a rumored 2024 presidential candidacy, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is embarking on a pro-police tour on Monday, beginning in New York City, as Fox News reports.

The goal of the endeavor is to speak directly with law enforcement officers and leaders in Democrat-led jurisdictions where they feel they do not receive the type of support they need to effectively carry out their duties.

DeSantis embarks on police listening tour

The first stop on DeSantis' journey will be the New York borough of Staten Island, where Republicans often receive more support than elsewhere in the Big Apple, and he will speak to police officers as well as police union officials about their ongoing concerns.

Next, DeSantis will travel to the Philadelphia suburb of Fort Washington, a particularly timely visit given the tragic fatal shooting of a Temple University police officer Saturday night as he attempted to apprehend a carjacking suspect.

Temple University Officer Christopher Fitzgerald was reportedly shot in the head while intervening in the attempted auto theft near the school's north Philadelphia campus, an area that has seen a significant uptick in violent crime in recent months.

Upon departure from Pennsylvania, DeSantis is set to visit Elmhurst, Illinois, a town not far from Chicago, where he is slated to hold conversations with chiefs of police, sheriffs, and others involved in area law enforcement.

Eagerly anticipated visit

The listening tour is intended to be a natural extension of DeSantis' tough-on-crime stance in his home state of Florida, likely in hopes of being seen as a sympathetic ear by the likes of Paul DiGiacomo, president of the Detective's Endowment Association in New York City, who explained to Fox News Digital how harmful recent bail reforms in his state have been in terms of officer safety.

DiGiacomo told the outlet that the visit from DeSantis represents a much-needed “law enforcement rally to send a message back to some of our elected officials that the laws that they have enacted in the state of New York are not working – specifically the bail reform laws – and it's putting my members, detectives and cops in danger, as well as the public.”

“It's gone too far to the left over the last couple of years,” DiGiacomo added.

One person who is apparently not enthusiastic about DeSantis' impending visit, however, is Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), who declared of his Florida counterpart, “Well, he doesn't represent the values of the people in Illinois. In fact, he is the antithesis of that. He's demonstrated that he's homophobic, that he has tendencies to promote racism,” an apparent reference to the Parental Rights in Education bill DeSantis signed last year.

Sunshine State reformer

While meeting with law enforcement representatives in cities across the country, DeSantis will have an opportunity to tout the initiatives he has launched in his own state in recent weeks, including a legislative proposal designed to, as his office put it in a recent press release, “maintain and further improve Florida's 50-year record low crime rate.”

DeSantis' proposal, according to the governor's office, “pushes back against the abolishment of cash bail, increases penalties for drug-related crimes, steps up human smuggling interdictions, strengthens the punishment for child rapists, prevents the early release of sex criminals, and makes it more feasible to administer ultimate justice to those facing the death penalty.”

In announcing the proposal, DeSantis declared, “Other states endanger their citizens by making it easier to put criminals back on the street. Here in Florida, we will continue to support and enact policies to protect our communities and keep Floridians safe. Florida will remain the law-and-order state.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody echoed those sentiments, stating, “While some states are adopting soft-on-crime policies that increase lawlessness and decrease public safety, in Florida, we strive to strengthen our laws, keep violent criminals behind bars and take proactive steps to keep our communities safe. I want to thank Governor DeSantis for always standing up for the rule of law and taking action to fortify public safety measures to ensure we continue to be the best state in the nation to pursue the American dream.”

Eye on 2024?

Though DeSantis has not declared his intentions when it comes to seeking the Republican presidential nomination in 2024, a recent feature piece on the governor by Selena Zito of the Washington Examiner offers some indication of where his thoughts currently lie.

Zito noted that according to DeSantis, his constituents in Florida have “mostly stopped asking if he's going to run, as though the question has already been answered,” with the governor himself observing, “People basically say, 'Well, yeah, you got to do it.'”

In Zito's estimation, DeSantis has been a bit surprised by the popularity he has engendered far beyond his home state, with the governor observing, “It's not just in Florida, it's also coming from Washington state, Alabama, all over the place, and I look at that. I'm like, 'Wow.' They're just responding to what I've done. It's not like I've ever campaigned in these places. It's pretty neat. People have been great.”

Now, with the governor embarking on a very intentional national tour to discuss law and order topics with police officers, it is difficult not to assume that he is testing the waters ahead of an announcement so many believe to be a foregone conclusion.