Green for the blue: Jimmy Patronis backs reimbursing police who lost pay because of COVID | Opinion

·2 min read

It’s a tough time to be in law enforcement.

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, there’s been a 10% increase in officer deaths compared to this time last year. Police still responded to 911 calls, and many of these heroes contracted COVID and died.

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So far this year, we’ve already had 71 officers nationwide who have fallen to this terrible virus. If that’s not enough, now police are being fired because of vaccine mandates. Thank God for leaders like Gov. Ron DeSantis who said “enough is enough” when it comes to mandates. I got the vaccine, but I don’t believe in mandates.

Now I believe there is an opportunity for the Legislature to make our officers, and their families, a little more comfortable as they continue to deal with COVID-19.

When COVID was hitting our nation the hardest, I issued a directive covering state first responders for workers compensation. I know that at the end of the day, however, workers comp claims just don’t cover all the bills.

The bottom third of this wall in the Memorial Rotunda at American Police Hall of Fame & Museum in Titusville lists the names of the 374 officers who died in the line of duty in 2020. Of those, 245 were COVID-19-related deaths.
The bottom third of this wall in the Memorial Rotunda at American Police Hall of Fame & Museum in Titusville lists the names of the 374 officers who died in the line of duty in 2020. Of those, 245 were COVID-19-related deaths.

That’s why this session the Legislature should consider covering the lost pay of any law enforcement officers who were hospitalized as a result of contracting COVID.

This would be a “Bridge for the Badge,” something that would provide a monetary bridge to families of law enforcement as their loved one dealt with COVID.

I am about as tight with the State of Florida’s purse strings as it gets, but the state’s coffers are filled to the brim, and I cannot imagine a better use of some of these funds.

I love being around law enforcement. Whenever there’s a parade, or festival, or football game, there’s always a few officers or sheriff’s deputies.

Outside of all the fun events, however, police are the tip-of-the-spear when it comes to disasters. I know when Hurricane Michael ravaged my hometown, we had 1,800 law enforcement officers deployed to the area.

That's why we will continue funding the police: We love this country and we don’t want to lose it.

CFO Jimmy Patronis
CFO Jimmy Patronis

Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis is a statewide elected official and member of Florida’s Cabinet who oversees the Department of Financial Services, which combats insurance fraud, support Florida’s firefighters, and ensures the state’s finances are stable to support economic growth.

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This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: CFO Patronis: Reimburse police who lost pay because of COVID

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