“It has been reported to NLEOMF that these officers have died due to direct exposure to the virus during the commission of their official duties,” the report said. Additionally, the report noted that because it is based on preliminary data, it’s possible the number of COVID-related deaths in 2021 could still increase.
“Law enforcement officers nationwide continue to be exposed to the Covid-19 virus in the course of their daily assignments,” the report said. “Therefore, the number of line-of-duty deaths is sadly ever increasing.”
In some states and counties, departments are still battling the virus. Georgia’s Muscogee County Sheriff Gregory Countryman told CBS News that his department currently has 18 active cases.
“Not only are we fighting with the criminals, we’re also fighting with this virus that’s out there,” he said. He noted that barely 40% of the county is vaccinated.
According to The New York Times, last fall more than 460 law enforcement officers died due to COVID-19 infections tied to their work since the start of the pandemic. Departments across the country reported large outbreaks as many individuals refused to be vaccinated.
Reports indicate that some law enforcement officials even took early retirement or quit rather than be vaccinated. As local governments continue pushing vaccine mandates for workers, some police officers and law enforcement unions have pushed back, continuing this trend of threatening resignations and legal action.
Most recently, a federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by several Los Angeles police officers who had sued over the city’s vaccine mandate this week.
The report did not clarify how many of the deaths were vaccinated or unvaccinated individuals.
Some conservative outlets, including Fox News, are using the deaths to their advantage. By sharing how many deaths took place in the line of duty and not what the cause was, they are advancing their racist and xenophobic agenda. Individuals who read their snippets of coverage may assume the deaths are related to protests or other “violence” as opposed to COVID-19 or being anti-vaccine.
Other law enforcement deaths were attributed to health issues, felony assaults, and traffic-related incidents while working the roadways. In the three decades before the pandemic, the organization’s annual tally of officers killed in the line of duty surpassed 200 only twice, in 2001 and 2007.
“This year’s statistics demonstrate that America’s front-line law enforcement officers continue to battle the deadly effects of the Covid-19 pandemic nationwide,” the report said.
According to NBC News, the report only mentions one year that deaths went above 300: 1930.