Last year, law enforcement lost hundreds of officers. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page (ODMP), 281 law enforcement professionals died by December 18, which includes deaths from shooting, motorcycle and vehicle accidents, 9/11-related illnesses and other health issues, including the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19. This is up from a total of 148 end-of-watch notifications in 2019.
The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) also tracks officer killings, and as of November 30, it recorded 283 shootings, 44 of which resulted in officer fatalities, per Fox News. That’s a 7% increase from 2019 and up more than 25% from 2018.
“Attacks on law enforcement officers continue at a disturbing pace. Violence against our officers MUST be condemned by all … Enough is enough,” FOP posted on Instagram, reported Fox News.
However, COVID-19 has proven to be a deadly issue for cops. As of December 18, at least 164 law enforcement professionals had died due to complications from the virus, reports ODMP. The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has been collecting state-by-state data on COVID-19 deaths, and so far, Texas leads with 57 officer fatalities, Louisiana, Georgia and Florida each had 16, and California had 15.
As first responders, police run a higher risk of contracting the virus on many fronts. For one thing, the work isn’t always conducive to maintaining social distancing and other recommended precautions. In addition to individuals’ personal health conditions possibly compromising their ability to recover from COVID-19, stress from the job can weaken the immune system.
“The exposure to a virus in the view of a stressful job, for example, with all the social stressors that come with it, economic stressors, of course, make all of us more vulnerable to contract a disease but also to get a systemic reaction to it with a weakened immune system,” explained Dr. Ernst Von Schwarz to new site AZ Family.
For more information about protection from COVID-19, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “What Law Enforcement Personnel Need to Know About Coronavirus Disease 2019” at www.cdc.gov/coronavi rus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-law-enforcement.html.
As seen in the January 2021 issue of American Police Beat magazine.
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