Piece of Mind: Hazardous Duty Pay Extended

May 18, 2020

Farmersville Police Chief Michael Sullivan has been protecting and serving the public for 34 years while working for various police agencies throughout North Texas.

He told the City Council this past week that he -- along with his police colleagues -- knew when they became cops that they were going to do "dangerous" work. Then he added, "We didn't sign on to handle a pandemic.”.

So it was this past week when the Farmersville City Council extended its hazardous pay ordinance for the city's police officers and its two paid firefighting staffers; the Farmersville Fire Department is an all-volunteer force led by Fire Chief Kim Morris and Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Lisman.

The City Council took what I have been led to believe is an unusual step in providing extra pay for police and firefighters during this coronavirus pandemic. The city was able to obtain a portion of grant funds obtained by Collin County, which then distributed about $168,000 to Farmersville that the city will use to pay the cops and firefighters the hazardous duty pay.

The city has stepped up and is standing behind the personnel it asks to stand in harm's way, which they do no matter whether they are battling the pandemic.

Farmersville, on the far eastern edge of Collin County, has set an interesting example that other cities ought to emulate.

Police officers and firefighters are exposing themselves to potentially deadly infection when they answer calls for help in the community. Sullivan said the police department has plenty of personal protection equipment on hand. He said the cops take each other's temperatures at the beginning and end of every shift. They seek to protect themselves to the max against the viral infection.

Still, the increased danger exists … even as police and firefighters face potentially imminent danger with every call they answer.

Other communities ought to follow suit.

John Kanelis, former editorial page editor for the Amarillo Globe-News and the Beaumont Enterprise, is also a former blogger for Panhandle PBS in Amarillo. He is now retired, but still writing. Kanelis can be contacted via Twitter @jkanelis, on Facebook, or his blog, Kanelis' blog for KETR, "Piece of Mind," presents his views, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of KETR, its staff, or its members.

Kanelis lives in Princeton with his wife, Kathy.