Flushing Township approves essential worker bonus pay

FLUSHING TWP. — The Flushing Township Board of Trustees has approved bonus hazard pay for township personnel who have worked through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The payments, which are being provided through the state’s Public Act 123 of 2020, will be given to township police officers and township office staff who continued working after stay at home orders were issued on March 17. Township police officers will receive a one-time $1,000 payment, and township staff will get a $500 payment.

Flushing Township Supervisor Fred Thorsby said that the hazard pay is a necessary compensation for the township’s essential personnel, particularly the township police.

“Our police officers had been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with multiple shifts and cars on the road,” he said. “Officers who were not in the schools were on the road and doing everything possible to protect our citizens. In the process, they exposed themselves to the possibility of getting COVID-19.”

In addition to conducting longer hours, Flushing Township Police Chief Mark Bolin said that his officers continued to respond to scenes that could have potentially put them at more risk for catching the coronavirus.

“We’ve had six death scenes that had to be investigated in the past three months,” he said. “Anytime we’re dealing with the deceased, we’ve required (officers) to wear N-95 masks, plus a face shield. Oftentimes, these places have no air conditioning, so the officers are investigating scenes that are quite grotesque by nature and oftentimes spending several hours in confined spaces.”

Despite the risk of exposure, Bolin said that no cases of COVID-19 have been reported among his officers.

During the state shutdown, Flushing Township employees also continued to work in-person albeit at a reduced staffing level. Office staff worked on rotation to limit possible exposure to COVID-19.

Thorsby said that the township will be reimbursed for the payments by the state, which in turn is receiving funding for the hazard pay from the federal CARES Act. Flushing Township will be distributing a total of $14,000 to police officers and essential township staff.