STATEN ISLAND, New York City (WABC) -- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis was in New York City Monday to meet with members of law enforcement.
Governor DeSantis took part in a discussion on Staten Island about protecting law and order.
"Is this Florida North or is Florida Staten Island South?" DeSantis said receiving a warm welcome from a room of active and retired police officers and firefighters.
Dozens packed the catering hall Prive on Monday morning, lining up early to ensure a spot.
Top of mind for some there was crime, and they say they wanted to be there to hear what the Florida governor had to say about bringing down the crime rate.
"We need a change. We need a change on both sides and I think he's the person for it," said Ron Arabia, a Tottenville resident.
Republican Ron DeSantis is widely-expected to announce a presidential run in the spring.
Admired by some, reviled by others for his sharply conservative views on LGBTQ rights, abortion access, COVID-19 and public school curriculum.
"We do not surrender to the woke mob," DeSantis said. "Our state is where woke goes to die!"
DeSantis portrays himself a 'tough-on-crime' public official and attacked New York's bail reform laws.
The Florida governor touted things like bonuses for law enforcement and brought up bail reform policies in New York, like a judge's inability to consider whether someone is a threat to public safety when determining bail. They are the same policies Mayor Eric Adams has criticized in the past.
"You apprehend a criminal, bring them in and then they just release them," DeSantis said. "So you've got to risk your life again two weeks later to arrest the same guy all over again. How does that make any sense?"
DeSantis claimed crime in Florida is at a "fifty year low," while failing to mention that Florida's overall crime rate-and rate of violent crime-are higher than in New York.
He left the event without taking questions from reporters.
Staten Island serves as a poignant location as it was the only borough to support Donald Trump for president in 2020 and 2016.
The Republican governor, who Trump once endorsed, is now the subject of criticism from the former president.
"I wish they'd both be nicer to each other," one voter said.
Republican Lee Zeldin and the president of the New York State Fraternal Order of Police joined DeSantis.
They stayed focused on the topic of combatting crime in New York City.
"We want streets that have law-abiding new Yorkers in charge of them as opposed to the criminals," Zeldin said.
Zeldin is touting the work Governor DeSantis has done to ensure public safety in his state and that New York should be using Florida as an example.
"The foundation of Florida's success has been a commitment to law and order and support for the men and women who wear the uniform," DeSantis said.
DeSantis also touted other things his state has tackled like critical race theory and the so-called "Don't Say Gay Law."
DeSantis has visited New York a few times in the last several months.
He was on Long Island back in October to campaign for Zeldin during his unsuccessful run for governor of New York.
The last time he was in New York City was last June for a conference of conservative Jewish leaders.
At the time, some New Yorkers made it clear they didn't want the Republican governor there.
Gay rights advocates and others protested the event and tried unsuccessfully to get the event canceled.
ALSO READ | 7 On Your Side breaks down how to avoid the top 7 tax-related scams
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News