Excellent article by Colin McEwen of the Daily says that of the 264 police officers who died in the line of duty in 2020 across the United States, more than half died of COVID-19. These findings come on the heels of new data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (PDF) (NLEOMF).
Mark Singer, the Leonard W. Mayo Professor in Family and Child Welfare at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, also discussed some possible solutions during his recent lecture in Cleveland.
“COVID-19 is absolutely devastating police departments around the country,” said Singer, also deputy director of the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at the Mandel School. “I’m certain there are local departments that have been ravaged by this disease, as well as our hospitals’ staff, firemen and EMS. We need to do everything we can to promote healthy, safe first responders.”
The data does not include how many police officers were forced to miss work days because of COVID-19. However, the NLEOMF report noted that 145 police officers nationally died from complications related to the novel coronavirus. The organization verifies each reported death, according to its website.
According to the data, COVID-19-related fatalities were the single highest cause of officer line-of-duty deaths in 2020. The data—which includes federal, state, military, tribal and local law enforcement officers—highlighted an increase in fatalities by 96% from the 135 officers killed during the same 12-month period in 2019.
Singer noted that, in typical years, the causes of death for police officers are varied, ranging from automobile crashes and heart attacks to gun violence and other physical violence. He said there are several key factors why COVID-19 is the current leading cause of police officer deaths.
According to the article, Singer also suggested police officers should be moved to the front of the line for vaccinations.
“These first responders have to deal with this extra worry, in what’s already a tension-filled job,” said Singer, who was recognized for his role with the Partnership for a Safer Cleveland in 2018 at the grand opening of the Five Communities exhibit at the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, D.C.
He also touted the Safeguarding America’s First Responders Act of 2020 as a success, which guarantees law enforcement officers and their survivors federal benefits if an officer is killed or disabled by COVID-19.
“I think it’s important to recognize some of the unique dangers that police officers are facing,” Singer said . . . They want to come home from work from a dangerous job and be safe.” ~Jack Singer, Professor in Family and Child Welfare.
My opinion? I agree with Singer that police officers should be moved to the front of the line for vaccinations. Unfortunately, other news reports indicate their vaccination rates are lower than or about the same as those of the general public. The reluctance of police to get vaccinated threatens not just their own health, but also the safety of people they’re responsible for guarding, monitoring and patrolling, experts say.
Please contact my office if you, a friend or family member are charged with a crime. Hiring an effective and competent defense attorney is the first and best step toward justice.