Governor Reeves authorizes one-time hazard pay for state law enforcement officers
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Around 1,750 law enforcement officers in the state are getting a thank you for taking the risks through serving amidst COVID in the form of a $1,000 hazard paycheck.
“They didn’t have the option of telework,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “They couldn’t work from home on a laptop. No. Instead, they’ve done what they always do. They get up every day, to protect and serve our communities with honor day in and day out. They put their own health on the line to keep us safe.”
It turns out Reeves had not completely used all of the discretionary CARES Act funds his office was allocated.
So, that’s where the money is coming from. And Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell explains that pay is a constant concern.
“The reality is, the law enforcement officers often have to work second jobs or work with two different agencies, just in an effort to make ends meet,” said Tindell. “This type of hazard pay being offered this time of year will help alleviate those worries and concerns.”
“My wife has been picking up extra shifts. Maybe she can knock that back a little bit with this money,” explained Trooper Craig James.
The one-time payments are set to go to every sworn law enforcement officer working for a state agency by the end of 2021.
The Governor says he’d be supportive of extending similar benefits to the other law enforcement officers in the state.
“We’ve certainly had numerous conversations with individual members of the legislature over the last several months,” said Reeves. “And I think that there’s a real opportunity to take this model of hazard pay. I think this would be a model that could potentially be utilized to expand what we were able to do.”
There’s expected to be a focus on those needs as the legislature returns in January. A “first responder caucus” was recently formed and plans to help call attention to the needs of police, first and EMS workers.
Tindell and the Governor also both say they’re hoping the legislature will take fast action on correcting a state law that impacts law enforcement families.
There’s a fix needed to extend death benefits for law enforcement officers who died from COVID-19. Legislative leaders are on board with making the change.
In fact, the Speaker and Lt. Governor had included the issue on their wish list for what to address in a requested special session that was never called by the Governor.
Below is a list of state agencies that employ law enforcement officers:
- Mississippi Department of Public Safety
- Mississippi Attorney General’s Office
- Mississippi Office of the State Auditor
- Mississippi Department of Revenue
- Mississippi Gaming Commission
- Mississippi Department of Mental Health
- Mississippi Department of Agriculture & Commerce
- Mississippi Department of Marine Resources
- Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks
- Pearl River Valley Water Supply District
- Mississippi Insurance Department
- Mississippi Department of Corrections
The governor’s office says they’re working with agencies to finalize the list of law enforcement officers who will receive the hazard pay, but they anticipate between 1,500 – 1,750 officers will receive the one-time payment.
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