According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, COVID-19 is the number one killer of law enforcement officers in the United States for the past two years.
- 2020 -254 reported law enforcement COVID -19 deaths.
- 2021- 327 reported law enforcement COVID -19 deaths.
2022 just started and there are already two reported law enforcement officer deaths associated with COVID-19 in the US. This is a total of 583 law enforcement officers who have died from COVID-19 since the pandemic started and it seems it will be with us for the foreseeable future.
No one likes mandates or laws that restrict individual freedom of choice, but I can also remember a time as a young police officer when seat belt laws became mandatory in my state, and everyone complained about making their own choices. Forming new habits was difficult at first but we adjusted. This was also around the same time when departments did not have mandatory requirements to wear protective vest. It was the officer’s choice to wear a vest or not, but they were available to those who wanted to wear one. I also remember several police shootings during this time, and at the next roll call even the old vets had their vest on after these incidents. It made for a lot of teasing and black humor. A bullet proof vest is not a guarantee that you will not get killed or seriously injured if shot, but it gives you a pro-active fighting chance to win. Going home at the end of the shift is what it is all about.
The COVID-19 vaccines have been available to law enforcement officers since January of 2021. Many have gotten their vaccines and even been boosted without having mandates. Many have also not gotten the vaccines despite the overwhelming medical evidence that if you get vaccinated and still get COVID-19 the odds are in your favor you will survive. Is this not the goal, to give yourself a fighting pro-active chance just like a protective vest? No guarantee but you are being pro-active with your life, your family members lives, and the lives of your brother and sisters in uniform.
Most uniform officers come into direct contact with dozens of citizens per shift. Social distancing is not an option with most encounters. Wearing a protective mask is not always an option for officers. It is the nature of the business mixing it up and being visible and available in the community.
As LEO’s its our job to protect the community. One way of doing this getting vaccinated to help stop the spread. This is what is expected of dedicated community servant to protect the people they are entrusted and privileged to serve.
I am not preaching something that I myself would not do. My hypocrisy only goes so far. My active law enforcement days are behind me, but I will always care and love the profession and believe in our mission. It was always about the officers I served with and trying to protect the community as best I could. I got the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine last January and got a booster last September. I am also a caregiver to my 88-year-old mother who lives with me, and I wanted to protect her as much as possible from this pandemic. Before getting the vaccine, I did my basic research and made a list of questions before I met with my medical doctor for advice. I weighed the options and listened to his professional medical advice on the advantages and disadvantages of the new COVID-19 vaccine. The pros outweighed the cons in my case. I believed in the science and wanted to protect my family and community. I got the jab.
The reality is that COVID-19 is the number one killer of law enforcement officers today. That is our reality. No mandate or police union can change that reality. The COVID-19 vaccines can reduce officer deaths. We live in polarizing tribal times that has divided our country; however, this is a global health crisis and there is no way around this reality. Your family wants and needs you. Your brothers and sisters want and need you. The community needs you maybe not always wants you but that is a debate for another time.
Stay resilient, keep learning, protect each other, do not be afraid to say you need help, everyone needs a battle buddy, even the hard heads among us, and I know from being a genuine hard head.
About the Author:
Mark Bond worked in law enforcement and has been a firearms trainer for more than 30 years. His law enforcement experience includes the military, local, state, and federal levels as a police officer and criminal investigator. Mark obtained a BS and MS in Criminal Justice, and M.Ed. in Educational Leadership with Summa Cum Laude Honors. Mark has a Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) with a concentration in college teaching and learning. Mark is currently an associate professor of human justice at a university and has been teaching in the classroom and online for 22 years.