Nonprofit report tracks 71 Covid-19-related deaths among law enforcement in the first half of this year– higher than both traffic and firearm-related deaths – as police unions fight against vaccine mandates.
The National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund’s midyear report found that the leading cause of death among law enforcement this year is Covid-19, with Covid-related causes being responsible for the majority of officer fatalities this year.
The report, which took data from July 1 to June 30, found that 71 officers died as a result of Covid-19 complications – more than firearm and traffic incidents combined.
The nonprofit further speculated that Covid-related deaths in law enforcement may be underreported by local agencies. They added that since the mid-year report, Covid-19 fatalities have continued to increase.
According to NBC News, 133 police officers have died of Covid-19 up to the date the article was written on Sept. 16.
Meanwhile, police unions across the country are rejecting vaccine mandates.
Police unions in Chicago, New York, Seattle and Tulsa have rejected vaccine mandates called for by city officials.
John Catanzara, the president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police, rejected Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s call for vaccine mandates.
“It cannot be mandated,” he told the Chicago Sun Times. “It’s that simple.”
“This vaccine has no studies for long-term side effects or consequences. None. To mandate anybody to get that vaccine, without that data as a baseline, amongst other issues, is a ‘hell no’ for us,” he declared.
Law enforcement agencies across the country are still hesitant to accept the vaccine. For instance, in Los Angeles, the third-largest police department in the country, just 47% of employees have been vaccinated. A decision on a vaccine mandate has caused a lot of controversy there.
In New York, the situation is identical. A police spokesman told NBC that 47% of uniformed and civilian employees with the NYPD received the vaccine.
In New Jersey, firefighters and police officers protested against Mayor Ras Baraka’s vaccine requirement for city workers, which is currently being challenged in court by a number of unions representing police officers and firefighters.
While rank and file officers and police unions fight back against mandates, city officials and police leaders maintain a different tone.
New York Police Commissioner Dermot Shea said he was “100 percent” for vaccine requirements.
Shea said he believed everyone across the country “should be embracing” the vaccines, and that it was “great news” the Pfizer vaccine received FDA approval.
“There’s just so much unnecessary loss, in my opinion, right now,” he said. “We lost somebody last week that was an extremely healthy man that had at one point in his career not gotten sick for 17 years. Think about that: Never called in sick in 17 years, and we lost him.”
Mark Hall, a New Orleans police officer whose father died of Covid, said he doesn’t need to be forced to take a vaccine.
“It doesn’t make me invulnerable,” he said of the vaccine. “But I’d rather have as much protection as I can.”