Local first responders are part of Gov. Brian Kemp and state House Speaker David Ralston’s commitment to prioritize public safety during the pandemic.
The state is offering one-time $1,000 bonuses to police officers, firefighters and other emergency responders, Kemp announced during a news conference.
The money will go to all eligible public safety officers and first responders, including police and sheriff’s office employees, parole and probation officers, prison and jail guards, emergency-medical technicians and paramedics, criminal investigators, court bailiffs, fish and game wardens, 911 dispatchers and evidence processors with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Kemp said police and fire departments and other emergency response agencies will be able to apply to the Governor’s Office of Planning and Budget for grants that will pay for the bonuses between Oct. 1 and the end of the year. The funds will come from Georgia’s $4.8 billion share of federal COVID-19 relief.
“The call volume we have had is going through the roof,” Douglas County Fire Chief Roderick Jolivette said. “Our personnel are working 24 hours a day. This will bring a breath of fresh air to the men and women in the field.”
Douglasville Police Chief Gary Sparks is also thankful for the bonuses for his officers.
“I know our officers appreciate the gesture,” Sparks said. “It is a good way of recognizing the services that they do in keeping our community safe.”
Ralston has been making public safety a priority in the aftermath of a crime wave that has driven up murder rates and other violent crime in Atlanta, other Georgia cities and across the nation. State House and Senate committees have been holding hearings to examine the reasons for the uptick in crime and what can be done to address it.
“We know it’s never been harder to wear a badge,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. “We want to ensure our officers know we appreciate their service and sacrifice.”
Sparks is hopefully that this will not just be a one-time incentive.
“We look at the overall situation, and we are appreciative to have it,” he said. “From the president to the governor, I’m glad they recognize and are taking care of law enforcement.”
The General Assembly approved one-time $1,000 bonuses earlier this year for teachers and state employees who earn less than $80,000 per year.
The Capitol Beat News Service Bureau contributed to this report.