Kincannon proposes ‘hero pay’ for first responders

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Mayor Indya Kincannon addresses the media at a National Night Out event in Mechanicsville. Photo by Megan Sadler.

Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon on Tuesday announced her plans for how to spend a $21.2 million infusion of funds from the federal government’s American Rescue Plan, which is meant to help the community bounce back after COVID-19.

Kincannon made the announcement just before showing up at a National Night Out event at Danny Mayfield Park in the Mechanicsville neighborhood.

“We’re using those monies to help our whole community recover from the pandemic,” Kincannon said. “We’re allocating two million dollars to fighting homelessness in our community. It also goes to first responders as ‘hero pay’ for our police officers and firefighters who have been working non-stop during the pandemic, facing extreme risks and hardships because of the pandemic, so I’m really pleased to provide hero pay for them and others who have been exposed to adverse risk.” 

According to the plan, which was posted on the City of Knoxville’s website, Kincannon wants $2.58 million be used for her so-called “hero pay” proposal. 

She’d also like to put more than $1 million toward behavioral and mental health treatment and service, invest $3.5 million in stormwater projects, and use $2.5 million to compensate for sharply increased construction costs at the city’s Public Safety Complex that were caused by the pandemic. 

“The entire country, including Knoxville, was hurt by COVID-19,” Mayor Kincannon said in a statement issued with the proposal’s publication. “We were knocked down but not out. Fortunately, with this much-appreciated federal assistance, we can provide new resources to our community that help us recover from the pandemic and thrive in the years to come. Cities rightfully switched priorities during the pandemic to help families and individuals in need. Now, with this federal funding, we can also get back in full stride, investing strategically in things like roads, sidewalks and stormwater upgrades.”

The full proposal is available on the City of Knoxville website.

National Night Out events are typically held every year to show support for first responders and to give officials an opportunity to get to better know the community, but they were canceled in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Knoxville Police Department officers who were present at Tuesday’s event said they were thankful it was able to return after the 2020 hiatus.

“It’s great to come to these things and just get out in the public, get out in the community and walk around and say ‘hi.’ It’s a chance for everybody to get to know us on a different level,” said KPD Officer John Morgan. “We’re so busy now, it’s hard for us to get out and do these things. It’s good to have a chance to get out in the community.” 

Morgan said that all first responders are invited to be part of the event, such as firefighters and paramedics. 

Several communities across Knoxville put their porch lights on as evening approached to show their appreciation for first responders. 

“A lot of folks who want to be part of the event are elderly and can’t always get out, but they put their lights on for us and it’s a really nice thing to see. We like to drive through the neighborhoods that participate at night and it’s encouraging to see,” said Morgan. 

Kincannon was expected to make stops at several other National Night Out events happening in neighborhoods across the city.

KPD Officer John Morgan at Tuesday’s National Night Out event in Mechanicsville. Photo by Megan Sadler.

Megan Sadler can be reached at news@hardknoxwire.com.

Published on October 13, 2021.