BOWIE COUNTY, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Officials in Bowie County voted on Monday to give some members of the sheriff’s department hazard pay due to the ongoing pandemic.
Chief Deputy Jeff Neal said that since March, about 39% of the patrol division has either tested positive for COVID-19 or had to quarantine.
On Monday, members of the Bowie County Commissioners Court voted to give many of the department’s employees, including patrol deputies and courthouse security personnel, three thousand dollars each, as a lump sum hazard payment.
The money, which will likely be paid at the end of the year, would be reimbursable to the county through the federal government, as part of the CARES Act.
The commission plans to vote on whether to give the department’s investigators hazard pay as well, at its next meeting. “The biggest question is who can get it, and nobody wants the county to have to pay back any money that wouldn’t be awarded later. So, that’s the question … everybody’s supportive of our deputies,” said Neal. “We’re a small agency, and all of our people are out in the field working whether it’s investigative, services, in and out of the jail transporting prisoners, or patrol division that’s out in contact with the public. They all have been at hazard and have been at work through the whole pandemic. So, we certainly believe that they’re all worthy of receiving the hazard pay.”
Neal said the CARES Act does not allow for everyone in the department to get hazard pay, so he proposed that everyone in the department receive the pay except for him. “There is some wording in the CARES Act that says it cannot be ‘across the board’ pay,” said Neal. “So, what I suggested to the commissioners is paying everybody but me, and that way, it’s not across the board, and all the people that have been out in the field working that actually need this pay, would get it.”
Neal is the sheriff-elect and is set to be sworn-in on January 1.