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Central Georgia sheriff says $1,000 public safety bonus only scratches surface of bigger issue

First responders, law enforcement, and more will get a $1,000 bonus from the state.

MACON, Ga. — In a Monday afternoon press conference, Governor Brian Kemp, joined by other law enforcement leaders, announced a bonus for first responders.

He said it was just another way he and his administration are thanking people on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As long as I am governor and as long as these members of the general assembly here with me today continue to serve under this gold dome, we will stand with our public safety officials period," said Kemp.

Turner County Sheriff Andy Hester is the current president of the Georgia Sheriffs Association. He says it's a big help.

"Over 20,000 employees that work for the sheriffs -- deputies, jailers, and dispatchers, I speak on their behalves, too. I think it's going to make a big difference in their lives," said Hester.

But former Georgia Sheriffs Association president Sheriff Terry Deese says although it's a boost, a bonus is just scratching the surface of a bigger issue.

"The sheriff's association did a survey back then with the sheriff's offices and the lowest-paid agency in the state was right here in middle Georgia," said Deese.

Deese says it wasn't too long ago when the state gave salary increases for state law enforcement officers, but there has yet to be an increase for local law enforcement.

"I don't mean to be criticizing the state for this bonus, but hopefully this will open the door to get them to start looking at that issue of local law enforcement compensation again because it is a problem," said Deese.

Counties and offices can start applying for the bonuses on October 1.