Officials at the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum in Titusville had navigated through the legislative process to get Florida House and Senate support for state funding to help expand their complex and add a new law enforcement training component.
When the Florida budget for 2023-24 was unanimously approved by both the House and Senate in May, it included $2.5 million for those projects.
But what they likely did not expect came in mid-June, when Gov. Ron DeSantis released his list of line-item budget vetoes. The two Police Hall of Fame projects were among the projects vetoed. The governor’s budget veto list does not indicate reasons for the vetoes, and officials of the Titusville complex say they are unaware of the reason their project did not stay in the budget.
DeSantis has consistently expressed strong support for law enforcement, and he has been to the Police Hall of Fame twice for news conferences to promote his law-enforcement-related agenda.
Officials of the Police Hall of Fame say they plan to move forward with their projects, despite the funding setback.
In commenting on the veto, Sara Brady, director of public relations for the US Law Enforcement Foundation and the American Police Hall of Fame, said: “We understand that speed bumps occur, and impact fundraising, but it’s unfortunate when they do. For more than half a century, the United States Law Enforcement Foundation has been a leading advocate for the profession of law enforcement, including funding and managing critical benevolent programs of compassion for fallen and disabled officers and their surviving families.”
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Police Hall of Fame President Barry Shepherd declined to comment on the issue.
Of the $2.5 million target for the Titusville facility, $2.25 million was for the Florida State Tribute at the US Law Enforcement Eternal Flame Park and Visitor Experience, whose centerpiece would be a 120-foot-tall “eternal flame” monument that would honor law enforcement. The project ― with an estimated total cost of $55 million ― would also include a welcome center, a convention center, a training building, a cafe and a “walk of honor.”
The governor also vetoed $250,000 targeted for the Florida Law Enforcement Education Initiative, to provide law enforcement officers with training in such “soft skills” as stress management and financial literacy.
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The appropriation request was sponsored by Sen. Tom Wright, R-New Smyrna Beach, and Rep. Tyler Sirois, R-Merritt Island.
Sirois said the Police Hall of Fame allocation remains a priority for him.
“I definitely plan to work on the American Police Hall of Fame next year,” Sirois said. “That project has significant potential for north Brevard.”
These were two of the four vetoes of Sirois-sponsored items in the budget ― all co-sponsored by Wright ― although both legislators also sponsored a number of other budget requests that made it intact through the veto process.
Sirois noted that he and other members of the Brevard County delegation to the Florida Legislature “did have some projects vetoed, and I will be meeting with stakeholders over the summer to decide if we want to try again in the next budget.”
This article originally appeared on Florida Today: Police Hall of Fame in Titusville expanding despite DeSantis veto