Dec 3, 2021 - Politics & Policy

DeSantis proposes Florida civilian military force that he'd control

Picture of Ron DeSantis

Photo: Bridget Bennett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Thursday proposed reestablishing the Florida State Guard, a civilian military force initially created during World War II, that would be under his command.

What he's saying: DeSantis said this civilian force would "not be encumbered by the federal government," adding that it would allow him "the flexibility and the ability needed to respond to events in our state in the most effective way possible."

  • "Reestablishing the Florida State Guard will allow civilians from all over the state to be trained in the best emergency response techniques and have the ability to mobilize very, very quickly," DeSantis said.

The big picture: Florida would become the 23rd state to have a state guard, alongside California, Texas and New York, according to the governor's office. The forces are mainly deployed to respond during disasters.

  • Florida law also allows DeSantis to deploy a military force "to assist the civil authorities in maintaining law and order," including during protests.
  • DeSantis said the force would be comprised of 200 volunteer members. His budget proposal includes $3.5 million that would be used to train and equip civilians.
  • The Florida State Guard was initially created to fill in for national guard members who were deployed during World War II. It was dissolved in 1947, per CNN.

The other side: Democrats oppose the idea. Gubernatorial challenger, Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) tweeted that no governor "should have his own handpicked secret police."

  • State Sen. Annette Taddeo (D), who is running for governor, called DeSantis a "[w]annabe dictator trying to make his move for his own vigilante militia."

Between the lines: DeSantis, who is up for re-election next year, is considered a possible contender for the 2024 Republican presidential primary.

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