Covid caused most deaths among U.S. police officers in 2021, report says
For the second year in a row, Covid-19 has been the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers in the United States, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
A total of 458 law enforcement officers died in the line of duty in the country last year, making it the deadliest year in more than 90 years and a 55% increase by compared to 2020, according to preliminary data compiled by the organization. Of these, he revealed that 301 federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers had died from Covid-19.
“It was reported to NLEOMF that these officers died as a result of direct exposure to the virus while performing their official duties,” the report said.
Criminal assaults were responsible for the deaths of 84 officers last year, including 62 officers killed by firearms, according to the report. Fifty-eight were killed in traffic incidents while working on the roads. The number of deaths from gun assaults and traffic-related fatalities had increased from the previous year.
The remaining deaths were attributed to reasons such as heart attacks, strokes and 9/11-related illnesses, according to the report. Other officers were killed in beatings, drownings and stabbing. One officer was killed by flood waters, and another was killed in a tornado.
In the three decades leading up to the pandemic, the organization’s annual tally of officers killed in the line of duty exceeded 200 only twice: once in 2001 and once in 2007. ‘it passed 300, that was in 1930.
While hundreds of officer deaths linked to Covid-19 have been identified, the report is preliminary and its authors expected agencies to have yet to report a significant number of them. “Law enforcement officers nationwide continue to be exposed to the Covid-19 virus as part of their daily missions,” he said. “As a result, the number of deaths in the line of duty is unfortunately steadily increasing.”
Last fall, it was reported that more than 460 U.S. police officers had died from work-related Covid-19 infections since the start of the pandemic. Without full accounting of the number of officers who had been ill with the virus, departments from coast to coast had reported major epidemics in the ranks. Vaccines, which have been shown to be effective in preventing serious illness and death, have remained difficult to sell to some agents.
In recent months, as local governments began to implement vaccination mandates for workers, some police and law enforcement unions have backed down, threatening with resignations and lawsuits.
In October, New York City’s largest police union sued the city’s vaccination mandate. The New York Police Benevolent Association has said it opposes a vaccination warrant for officers that does not allow the ability to be tested weekly instead of being vaccinated. A federal judge this week dismissed a lawsuit filed by several Los Angeles police officers who had pursued the city’s vaccination warrant.