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Florida Sheriffs Research Institute and the Florida Chamber of Commerce Release Report on Securing Florida’s Future Success

April 03, 2024

Today, more than 30 sheriffs, business leaders, and Attorney General Ashley Moody joined for a roundtable discussion to delve into the findings of a research report jointly conducted by the Florida Sheriffs Association’s Research Institute and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.

In the face of rising crime rates and economic uncertainty plaguing many states and cities across the nation, Florida stands out as a beacon of hope and resilience. While some jurisdictions have faltered due to damaging policy decisions, Florida remains steadfast in its commitment to securing prosperity and safety for its residents.

Tragically, numerous communities across the country have veered off the path of economic prosperity and security, descending into crime-ridden despair and ruin. The consequences of ill-informed decisions to decriminalize crime, defund police, refuse prosecution, neglect juvenile accountability, and undermine law enforcement support have been dire for some once-thriving cities.

“Florida consistently demonstrates the right approach, and it’s not just a slogan—it’s a reality. The state’s policies, actions, and leadership are pivotal factors driving the influx of new Floridians,” said Sheriff Bill Leeper, FSA President and Nassau County Sheriff.

As the nation grapples with crime in its communities, Florida stands out for getting it right. With a population of approximately 23 million people and projected growth to add 2.8 million more residents, 1.35 million new jobs, 40 million additional annual visitors, and approximately 2.5 million more drivers on its roads by 2030, Florida recognizes that safe communities are paramount to achieving these goals.

“Six years ago when the Florida Chamber Foundation launched the Florida 2030 Blueprint, local businesses recognized that high crime rates could be a headwind to Florida’s economic momentum as we work to become the 10th largest economy in the world by 2030,” said Mark Wilson, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. “Thanks to state and local leaders, Florida is largely getting it right and fostering a climate that leads to safer communities. The world continues to watch Florida as it remains the national model for economic growth, quality of life and competitiveness.” 

Florida’s state leaders have unequivocally rejected policies that promote chaos and instability in cities. Instead, they have embraced sound policies to combat crime and disorder, ensuring the safety and economic stability of communities across the state.

“Florida is the envy of the nation—ranking high for population growth, business formations and tourism. This is no accident. While some parts of the country took dangerous, unproven detours, our leaders stayed focused on sound, commonsense criminal justice policies and the results speak volumes about how to build Stronger, Safer Cities. I want to thank the Florida Sheriffs Association and the Florida Chamber of Commerce for their astute work on this report that outlines how we got here and what to avoid to keep Florida, Florida,” said Attorney General Ashley Moody

The commitment to prioritizing safety and prosperity is encapsulated in a new report released today, which outlines policy detours that threaten the fabric of communities. This report serves as both a warning and a roadmap to building stronger, safer cities and reaffirms Florida’s dedication to fostering an environment conducive to growth, opportunity, and security for all.

“The evidence unequivocally demonstrates the effectiveness of Florida’s initiatives. Through steadfast policy advocacy, proficient implementation, and unwavering support for law enforcement from both our leaders and the public, the results that have been achieved are undeniable,” stated Walton County Sheriff Michael A. Adkinson, Chair of the Florida Sheriffs Research Institute. “Accurate and strong research empowers leaders in every industry to take action that enhances public safety while nurturing trust with those they serve. This is precisely why Florida’s Sheriffs felt compelled to establish the Florida Sheriffs Research Institute in 2019.” 

As other states grapple with the consequences of misguided policies, Florida remains resolute in its mission to lead by example, demonstrating that safety and prosperity go hand in hand. By prioritizing the well-being of its residents and communities, Florida continues to pave the way forward for a brighter, more secure future.

View the full report.

Highlights from the Report

Building Stronger Safer Cities: Cities Around our Nation Compared to Florida 
I. Decriminalizing Crime: Some criminal justice reforms included legalizing stealing and legalizing all drugs.     

  • California passed Prop 47, increased thresholds for felony shoplifting and theft; resulted in store closings, workers losing jobs, citizens losing local source of goods. Florida launched Florida Organized Retail Crime Exchange task force and database to combat organized retail theft; helped prevent same spiral found in California. 
  • Oregon enacted first-in-the-nation law decriminalizing possession of heroin, cocaine and other illicit drugs; resulted in open-air drug markets, highest increase in synthetic opioid overdose deaths and violent crime increased 17%. 
  • In 2022, the Florida legislature increased mandatory minimum sentence for trafficking fentanyl; also passed legislation going after those trafficking fentanyl to children and causing overdose. Legislature also provided historic substance abuse treatment funding, augmented by Attorney General Moody’s historic $3 billion opioid litigation.

II.    Defunding the Police: After 2020, reform activists nationwide sought to defund law enforcement.

  • Many cities made major cuts to police funding. NYC slashed police budget by $1 billion.
  • As a result, crime increased. In June 2021-2022, NYC saw 31% increase in overall crime. Additionally, defund movement caused law enforcement officer morale to plummet, and officer shortages.
  • Florida took the opposite approach, passing legislation (HB 1 in 2021) to prevent cities from defunding the police and then funding multiple $1,000 bonuses for first responders and establishing a law enforcement officer recruitment bonus program as well.

III.    Rogue Prosecutors: Rogue prosecutors encourage lawlessness, harm law-abiding residents, drive residents and businesses out of cities and demoralize police. 

  • Most prominent rogue prosecutors are in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, St. Louis, Austin and Boston. 
  • San Francisco District Attorney Boudin pledged to end cash bail and refusal to prosecute thefts with value less than $950 led to epidemic of brazen shoplifting cases. As a result, Walgreens closed 17 stores and Target closed stores early because they could not sustain the theft and high financial losses.
  • Florida has taken steps to prevent rogue prosecutors. When one state attorney refused to seek the death penalty in any murder case, the Governor reassigned all first-degree murder cases from her. 

IV.    The Revolving Jailhouse Door: One significant policy offramp is ending cash bail. 

  • Data show that many no cash bail programs have failed. 
  • Cook County (Chicago) eliminated cash bail in 2017. A study found that released defendants charged with committing new crimes increased by 45%, and the number of pretrial releasees charged with committing new violent crimes increased by an estimated 33%.
  • Florida passed legislation requiring violent or repeat offenders to see a judge before they can receive a bond, and stopped local courts from establishing no bond policies, implementing a uniform bond schedule for every judicial circuit.

V.    Juvenile Accountability: In recent years, reform activists sought to decriminalize wrongful juvenile behavior, leading to an increase in violent juvenile crime. 

  • When a juvenile commits a crime and realizes there are no real consequences for their criminal behavior, many times the child commits more crimes or escalates their criminal behavior to more serious offenses.
  • Sacramento County, California saw 74% increase of juvenile gun crimes.
  • Florida legislature passed laws that allow judges to decide whether to place a serious juvenile offender in secure detention for more than 21 days, closed loopholes by ensuring juveniles charged with gun crime are held in secure detention before seeing a judge, and authorizes courts to commit juveniles to residential program for misdemeanor violation of unlawful possession of a firearm.

VI.    Supporting Law Enforcement: Leader driven support for law enforcement can increase and enhance public safety.

  • Following the summer of 2020, public sentiment toward law enforcement declined, causing morale among ranks to plummet. 
  • By September 2020, nearly nine out of 10 agencies reported staffing shortages. Many officers in certain cities felt they lacked support from political leadership and the community to do their job. 
  • Florida introduced a slew of bills to support law enforcement, recruit new officers and keep local government from defunding the police. As result of recruitment efforts, legislative changes, and support from state leaders, more than 4,000 new officers received Florida’s Law Enforcement Recruitment Bonus. Nearly a fourth of these new recruits moved from out-of-state.

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About Florida Sheriffs Association: 
The Florida Sheriffs Association is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation made up of the Sheriffs of Florida, approximately 3,000 business leaders and 100,000 citizens throughout the state. Founded in 1893, FSA has steadfastly served the citizens of Florida by supporting the needs of the state’s law enforcement community. Through the Florida Sheriffs Association, Sheriffs are given a forum to address lawmakers to push for positive changes in Florida’s public safety arena. FSA also provides Sheriffs’ Offices much-needed programs such as affordable training, special task forces and legislative and legal services. Dedicated to the prevention of juvenile delinquency and the development of lawful, productive citizens, FSA has established and funded the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches with facilities throughout the state to help restore hope, fulfill dreams, and prepare boys and girls for the future. It has grown to be one of the largest and most successful state law enforcement associations in the nation. For more information on the Florida Sheriffs Association, visit

About Florida Chamber of Commerce
The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of Florida job creators and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and region. The Florida Chamber is uniting Florida’s job creators for good to further diversity Florida’s economy, growing it to a top 10 global economy, and is the driving force of Florida’s Future. Committed to fighting for jobs and defeating legislation threatening to Florida’s free enterprise system, the Florida Chamber aggressively works within the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of state government to advocate legislation essential to keeping Florida, Florida and the continued improvement of Florida’s business climate and sustained economic development across the state.