The year 2021 marked a deadly period for police officers in the United States as a recent report indicated 458 law enforcers have died in the line of duty.
According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, which released the report, the number is a 55% increase from 2020. The main reason for death is the COVID-19 virus that killed a total of 301 federal, state, tribal, and local officers.
The number represented a dramatic jump in 50 years of data in the report, as per New York Times.
The report also said that "direct exposure" to the deadly virus while performing their duties caused the demise of the officers.
County Sheriff Gregory Countryman in Muscogee, Georgia said that his department is fighting criminals and the virus at the same time, as 18 of his men are down with the sickness. While just slightly above 40% of the county's residents have received immunization against COVID-19.
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Numbers Not Yet Final
According to CBS News, the released report of the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund is based on preliminary data, thus it is more likely that the number of deaths due to COVID-19 in 2021 will increase.
Aside from the COVID-19 virus, the other causes of deaths among police officers in 2021 were criminal assaults, which accounted for 84 fatalities, including 62 officers killed by gunfire; Traffic incidents with 58 deaths; "Ambush-style attacks" killed 19, higher than the recorded 6 deaths in 2020.
The remaining fatalities were caused by health issues, accidents, and other causes.
The report noted that the statistics demonstrate the struggles of America's police officers in the front lines in battling the fatal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the country.
Texas recorded the most number of police deaths due to COVID-19 in the US (84), followed by Florida (52), then Georgia (39), California (24), and North Carolina (21). Meanwhile, there were no COVID-19 deaths in 11 states and Washington, DC.
A Vaccine-Related Issue
However, the report does not show the number of officers that received the vaccination. It was previously reported last year that union officials in Chicago, Tulsa, Oklahoma, New York City, and Seattle have expressed their opposition to mandatory vaccination, as per NBC News.
A police officer in Philadelphia died from COVID-19 on March 3 last year. He was scheduled to get his first jab on March 11. His widow, who requested the media to hide her identity, express her great disappointment with the opposition to the vaccine mandates for law enforcers.
She appealed to police union officials to see the mandate as "another means of protection" and hopes that they look at the vaccine "as a way that they are protecting and serving the people that they work with."
But Sheriffs in Florida, California, Columbia, and Kansas have said that they would not enforce "no vaccine mandate"
In the last quarter of 2021, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis offered to signing bonuses of $5,000 to law enforcement officers who may lose their jobs for not wanting to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.
"We're actually actively working to recruit out-of-state law enforcement, because we do have needs," the Republican governor said.