OP still mulls hazard pay for first responders

Finance committee discussed issue for 3.5 hours
overland park police
Posted at 11:12 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 00:12:44-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Members of the Overland Park Finance Committee discussed hazard pay for first responders for more than three hours on Wednesday night.

During a virtual meeting that more than 60 community members attended, the committee explored, but made no decision on, three possible hazard pay options.

The options included three monthly rates for hazard payments with the cost to the city for police and fire personnel ranging from roughly $53,000 up to $213,000.

Those in attendance discussed who qualifies as a first responder – whether that’s strictly police and fire employees or anyone who comes into contact with the public – and where the funding would come from.

Ward 1 Councilman Logan Heley said hazard pay could be left up to state and federal governments, suggesting that residents contact those elected officials.

Ward 5 Councilman Faris Farassati said that first responders are “more at risk now than during stay at home orders because more people are out.”

“I think people of Overland Park want to take care of their first responders.” said Farassati.

Farassati also read a statement from Corinne Mosher, the wife of OPPD Officer Mike Mosher, who was killed in the line of duty in May, on what she found in her husband’s car the day he died.

“His car was littered with hand sanitizer bottles and face masks which he personally had hunted down in order to distribute to his fellow officers,” the statement read, in part. “Mike knew that his officers were fighting an invisible enemy that could breach the walls of their own homes and devastate the health of their children, parents, spouses and unborn babies. And yet, not one of our officers has refused a call to service. They continue to put on the uniform and come to work every day to faithfully serve this city despite the pandemic. And they do it with no compensation for that time, no compensation for that effort and that danger.”

As of Wednesday, no city employees considered at risk of catching COVID-19 have been diagnosed with the virus.

However, Ward 6 Councilman Scott Hamblin said “just because there are no cases doesn’t mean there isn’t danger.”

City employees who have contact with the public still are following protective measures.