Deputies raise questions after Osceola County sheriff approves $1,000 bonuses for civilian employees

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office has approved giving most civilian employees $1,000 checks after Gov. Ron DeSantis gave $1,000 checks to first responders and teachers.

Now Oscoela County Sheriff Marco Lopez is giving most of his civilian employees checks out of his own budget.

The cost in just that one department is $240,000, and not everyone is happy about it.

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Lopez approved that money, but said this week there was no money for body cameras or school resource officers, which were also estimated to cost $240,000. When pressed by Channel 9 reporter Shannon Butler, he said the issue with the SRO body cameras wasn’t about money, but the fact that he doesn’t think they’re needed.

He said the support staff also risked exposure, so they should be compensated just the same as deputies; and if the state wouldn’t do it, he would. Lopez said he has an $85 million budget and had the money to help the employees.

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Deputies raised questions, saying they received the money because they were responding to calls risking exposure to COVID-19 while many people were sent home to work.

But the sheriff’s office said those who worked at home got smaller bonuses, and the $1,000 checks went to those who came into the office.

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Lopez said the money is coming out of his general fund, which means Osceola County taxpayers footed the bill.

Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.