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Florida police union requests ‘pandemic pay’ for officers amid coronavirus outbreak

West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association makes request

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LAKELAND, Fla. – A Florida police union requested its members be given extra “pandemic pay” for working during the coronavirus outbreak.

The request was made in a letter Tuesday by the president of West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association, Nick Marolda, on behalf of its member officers in Lakeland, The Ledger reported.

“While the dangers of chasing bad guys into dark alleys and making ‘routine’ traffic stops are arguable, part of what law enforcement ‘signs up for’ (is not) the novel COVID-19,” Marolda said in the letter to the city’s Manager Tony Delgado and Police Chief Ruben Garcia.

Delgado said officers were paid extra wages in prior times for putting in more work through emergency situations, including hurricanes and tornadoes.

He added Lakeland’s emergency expenses during these events were refundable by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It is not yet known if those same guidelines apply for officers working during the virus outbreak.

City Mayor Bill Mutz said he appreciates the officer’s work, but added that this is not “a reasonable request in light of the circumstances we are in because we could make a case for hazard pay for lots of people.”

The request for extra pay comes amid the city’s continued negotiation with the police union about wages. Members of the union have been working under an expired contract since September 2019 while waiting for a new deal to be made.

Marolda said he was asked to make an “out of the box” presentation to officials on how to best approach a “pandemic pay.”