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TURES COLUMN: Doing our part to protect police officers from COVID-19

When I was a college student, my friends and I went to see “Lethal Weapon 3,” which covered the scourge of “cop killer” bullets, capable of penetrating the bulletproof vests of police officers.  There’s a new cop killer out over the last two years: COVID-19.  It’s taking out more officers than anything else out there. As of the writing of this, five South Florida officers died of COVID-19, and they aren’t even in the dataset.

I got my data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund or NLEOMF.

“Of the 155 confirmed law enforcement line of-duty deaths from January 1, 2021 – June 30, 2021, COVID-19-related fatalities were the leading cause of law enforcement deaths. Seventy-one officers succumbed to the disease in the first half of 2021.”

And the NLEOMF and its COVID-19 Task Force fear the number may actually be much higher, and are coordinating with a host of law enforcement officials to gather more data.

One of the only bright spots here is that these 71 deaths represent a 7% decrease over the number of coronavirus deaths from last year.

Given COVID-19 hit hard from March through June, as opposed to a full year (January-June), this is probably success with the vaccine program, as well as more recognition of the problem, rather than denying its existence (though some still do this).

Just so you know how serious this is, the deaths from just January-June for 2020 and for January-June of 2021 alone (not counting July-December 2020), which have been put in the “Other Category” for officer fatality, exceed all “other cause” deaths for law enforcement from the 1970s through 2019, combined.

These deaths were not evenly distributed across the country, either.  Georgia and Texas had the highest number of police fatalities due to COVID, followed by Florida and California. But there were 29 states and DC did not have a single COVID-19 related fatality.

I bet I know what you’re thinking: it’s simply because some of those high death states for the police simply had so many officers.

But Illinois, which didn’t have a single police coronavirus fatality, is a populous state. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Maryland, Missouri, and Arizona have double-digit Electoral College votes, and no police COVID-19 deaths. 

Sure, most states without an officer dying of COVID-19 are blue states (Oregon, Nevada, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Hawaii and New Mexico) but some are red states too, from the Plains States to the Rocky Mountain region to Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi. Then again, Kentucky and Louisiana have Democratic Governors with tough anti-COVID-19 measures.

You’re probably wondering “What can I do if I think ‘Blue Lives Matter?’” Getting vaccinated and wearing a mask would be a good start. But not sharing conspiracy theory articles, pseudo-science research, and memes which lead to vaccine hesitancy, would also help.

If you don’t support defunding the police, why don’t you also oppose “depopulating the police?”