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More police in Florida have died from COVID-19 than gunfire or other work-related injuries, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
In South Florida in particular, 33 law enforcement officers have lost their lives in the line of duty during the past 2 years. Three were killed by gunfire, one died in a car crash, one died due to an injury, and 28 died from COVID-19.
“It is the number one killer of police, hands down,” Chuck Wexler, PhD, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told the newspaper.
“More cops will die of COVID than will be shot, stabbed, or die in traffic accidents,” he said. “And it’s an equal opportunity killer.”
Nationwide, COVID-19 was the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers during the past 2 years, according to statistics compiled by the Officer Down Memorial Page. More than 570 officers have died from the coronavirus, which is 66% of those who have died in the line of duty. About 180 officers died from traffic accidents or other medical issues such as heart attacks, and 100 were killed by gunfire.
Florida has accounted for more than 10% of all COVID-19 law enforcement deaths across the country. The coronavirus has killed corrections officers, Customs and Border Patrol agents, Florida Highway Patrol troopers, and U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives officers, the newspaper reported.
In Florida, 53 officers have died from COVID-19. Only Texas has lost more officers to COVID-19 than Florida, with 151 of its 160 line-of-duty deaths due to the coronavirus. After that, Georgia has lost 44 officers due to the pandemic, and California and North Carolina have lost 25 officers each to COVID-19.
The pandemic has also had a severe impact on staff operations, the newspaper reported. Some departments have reported more than 10% of their staff were out at the same time due to sickness or quarantines.
“While COVID-19 is without a doubt a public health crisis, it is also a public safety crisis,” the Fraternal Order of Police wrote on its page documenting COVID-19 line-of-duty deaths.
Some lists may be an undercount, the group said, which estimates more than 800 officers have died due to the pandemic.
“COVID-19 makes no distinction between age, race or gender,” the group wrote. “As we have feared, the virus has claimed the lives of many and now includes a growing number of law enforcement officers.”
Orlando Sentinel: “COVID kills Florida police more often than gunfire.”
Officer Down Memorial Page: “Fallen Officers From the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Fraternal Order of Police: “COVID-19 Line-of-Duty Deaths.”
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