Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s administration views the upcoming trial of Derek Chauvin as a high-security event. Hundreds of state and local law enforcement personnel are expected to deploy to Hennepin County in March when the former Minneapolis Police Department officer is tried for the killing of George Floyd last May. However, Brian Peters, the executive director of the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, claims state authorities are overlooking the safety of those cops by not prioritizing them for COVID-19 vaccinations. The Star Tribune reports that vaccines were distributed to officers from the St. Paul Police Department in the last week of January, but shots slated for MPD cops are still weeks out.
“We need all the personnel that we can to be able to respond,” said Peters, per FOX 9 news. “And it’s getting to be crunch time. For the vaccine to be effective, we need two rounds of it, so time is of the essence.”
According to the news station, Minnesota state troopers have received the first stage of inoculations due to their emergency medical responder designation, but because sheriff’s deputies are not classified as emergency medical responders, they had not yet been prioritized.
The Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association (MCPA) and the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association also expressed concern over their officers’ exposure to COVID-19 if protests break out during or after the trial. In a joint letter to the governor, the organizations’ executive directors stated, “From the information we are receiving, the [Minnesota Department of Health] is refusing to allow sworn officers and deputies to receive the vaccine if they are not ‘certified’ first responders. To be clear, sworn officers and deputies in the more than 400 law enforcement agencies in Minnesota ARE first responders. Some agencies have more advanced first responder training, but all respond to incidents and oftentimes provide initial medical assistance. They call for more advanced medical help when needed.
“With all of this in mind, we believe it’s imperative that the MDH allows police officers and sheriff’s deputies immediate access to the available vaccinations. If not, the health of our officers and deputies who are sworn to protect — and the safety of those they have taken an oath to serve — is at risk.”
Hennepin County officials, per Fox 9, cited inadequate vaccine supplies for the delay, but also confirmed deputies could be first in line by early February.