The leading killer of law enforcement officers this year is not violence or car crashes — it is COVID-19.
New numbers from the Officer Down Memorial Page are showing the huge toll the pandemic is having in departments across the country.
COVID-19 has killed nearly five times more officers than gunfire.
More than 400 officers died from COVID-19 so far in 2021.
In Florida, 43 officers have died in the line of duty — 32 of them died from COVID-19 related issues. Those numbers include corrections officers and federal agents who were assigned to work in the state.
In our News4Jax viewing area, two officers from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s office died from COVID-19 this year. Nassau, Clay, St. Johns and Flagler County Sheriff’s Offices each lost one deputy to the pandemic.
The chief of the Green Cove Springs Police Department also died from coronavirus.
A service officer with Neptune Beach’s Police Department and a sergeant with the Jacksonville Beach Police Department lost their lives from coronavirus-related complications.
This comes at a time several law enforcement agencies are pushing back against vaccine mandates.
For example, 4,500 police officers in Chicago have not reported their vaccination status by the city’s Oct. 15 deadline. Officials say potential discipline can range from no pay to officers being fired.
In Massachusetts, the head of the troopers’ union says state police are missing nearly 600 officers in the field because of their refusal to get vaccinated.
In Florida, the number of law enforcement officers whose deaths were tied to COVID-19 in 2021 is more than double last year’s total. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, 15 officers died from COVID-19 complications in 2020.