ATLANTA — Public safety employees across the state will receive a $1,000 bonus, Gov. Brian Kemp announced Monday.
Local public safety agencies can begin entering requests for the funding on behalf of employees through the Office of Planning and Budget GeorgiaGrants portal beginning Oct. 1.
“Our law-enforcement officers have been thrown challenge after challenge in the last year and a half ... civil unrest, a spike in violent crime as well as a global pandemic,” Kemp said during the press conference. “… We’re going to fund our public safety officials and let them know that the people of this state and its leaders value them as well as their families because when they walkout the door to do their jobs, they’re putting it all on the lines in tough conditions and they deserve to know we have their back.”
The Law Enforcement and First Responder Supplement, funded through the American Rescue Plan Act, includes full-time:
- State, local or education entity sworn law enforcement
- Criminal investigators and detectives
- Probation and parole officers
- Career firefighters
- Emergency medical technicians and paramedics
- Sheriffs and deputies
- Correctional and jail officers
- Fish and game wardens
- 911 communications officers or dispatchers
Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk said while his agency, like others, has experienced challenges in filling vacancies, the $1,000 supplement will be helpful in retaining his 240 employees.
“We’re still having trouble hiring people, there’s so many people getting paid to sit home. We’re seeing less applications than I’ve ever seen in my 22-year career,” said Paulk, noting nearly 20 vacant positions in the jail division. “The (supplement) certainly will be a help, especially employees coming close to the holidays. I think it’s a very good gesture.”
Jane Moon with Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police highlighted the importance of investing in public safety, noting that 33 officers have died in the line of duty this year, 28 of them COVID-19-related.
“Unfortunately, we’re going to lose more public safety officers before the year ends along with more citizens,” she said. “… We are thankful for the state leadership for recognizing this commitment to law enforcement and first responders by providing this funding.”
Local agencies can submit applications for the supplement through Dec. 31. Payments will be based on the number of full-time public safety or first responder personnel working for the department as of August during the most recent COVID-19 surge, according to Kemp's office. A $300 stipend is also available for volunteer firefighters.
Agencies can get more information and begin applying Oct. 1 at https://opb.georgia.gov/active-grant-programs.