More than 460 police officers in 2020 and 2021 have died from COVID-19 infections related to job requirements, making the virus the top, duty-related cause of death during the period, according to a new law-enforcement nonprofit.
The numbers are being tallied by the group Officer Down Memorial Page. The site also urges law enforcement officers to get the vaccine or at least consult with a doctor about getting vaccinated.
Getting officers to get vaccinated has been a challenge for police departments across the country. Efforts to require vaccines through mandates has resulted in resistance from unions and officers filing for an exemption and/or threatening to quit.
"It's a huge challenge, and I think mayors throughout the country are balancing the safety imperatives of responding to 911 calls against the safety imperatives of having a vaccinated work force," said Mayor Sam Liccardo of San Jose, California.
There is a vaccine mandate taking effect in the city, but unvaccinated officers will be allowed to remain employed at least through the end of the year.
Imposing such mandates has been difficult considering the large number of vacancies in police departments across the country that must be filled with qualified candidates, with violent crime surging last year.