Ohio state representatives introduced a bill Wednesday that would give every police officer and first responder in the state who worked during the coronavirus pandemic a one-time bonus check of $1,000.
Rep. Phil Plummer, a former Montgomery County sheriff who now represents the 40th District of Ohio as a Republican, introduced the bill with 13 co-sponsors.
"In Ohio, we strongly support our brave first responders," Plummer said Wednesday. "The goal of this legislation is to provide a small token of gratitude to these men and women for their tireless work during the pandemic and their service each day to our communities."
Anyone would be eligible who has been employed since March 1 of last year as a police officer, firefighter, State Highway Patrol officer, county deputy sheriff, Bureau of Criminal Investigation agent, jail officer, volunteer firefighter or emergency medical technician.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit police departments hard nationwide. 264 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty last year, nearly double the number who died in 2019. More than half of those deaths, 145, were caused by COVID-19, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Rep. Craig S. Riedel, a Republican who represents parts of northwest Ohio, said this bill is to show appreciation for the law enforcement officers and first responders who have continued working despite the pandemic.
"The last year and a half have been some really difficult times for our country, and in particular, for first responders and law enforcement. They have been put in some very difficult situations, and time and time again, they have come through for us," Riedel said at a press conference Wednesday.
"We are showing our appreciation, we are showing our gratitude for all first responders and law enforcement for what they do every day to keep us safe."
Riedel said he and other state representatives were inspired by a similar bill that was signed into law by Florida Gov. Ron Desantis last month.
"Supporting our law enforcement and first responders has been a top priority for my administration, and it has never been more important than over the last year," DeSantis said on May 5. "This one-time bonus is a small token of appreciation, but we can never go far enough to express our gratitude for their selflessness."