Kansas City doesn’t actually know how many of its police forces are vaccinated against COVID-19 | KCUR 89.3
No one knows how many Kansas City, Missouri Police Department employees are vaccinated against COVID-19. Not the city, which relies on officers to interact with the public when they answer calls, or the department itself, which does not require officers to get vaccinated.
At a Tuesday meeting of the finance, governance and public safety committee, KCPD chief Rick Smith told City Councilor Katheryn Shields that a poll showed that about 48% of the department’s employees had been vaccinated – below that in Kansas City. overall vaccination rate 52.1% Tuesday.
But the police investigation, carried out several months ago, was voluntary. Of the respondents, 48% indicated that they were vaccinated. The ministry did not verify how many people responded to the survey compared to its total number of employees, making it impossible to determine the true vaccination rate.
“This investigation was by no means scientific,” said Sgt. Jacob Becchina told The Beacon in an email. “KCPD does not monitor the immunization status of our employees. “
The reluctance of the KCPD to impose or monitor the vaccination of officers is in line with a national trend among law enforcement. Police unions decried the mandates as potentially scaring current and future employees. But so far away no massive departure has taken place regarding vaccination warrants in the United States
“Of all the things I’ve had to deal with in the police this one is perhaps the most confusing because, you know, now we have a way to reduce hospitalizations and deaths,” Chuck said. Wexler, Executive Director of Police. Executive Research Forum. “For me, it is more than inexplicable, because it has tragic consequences, to see police officers die needlessly, while the vaccine would have made it possible to avoid hospitalizations and deaths.”
Overland Park Police, KCKPD Report Higher Vaccination Rates
Other police services in the region have reported greater success in vaccinating their employees.
More than 75% of Overland Park Police Department employees are vaccinated, according to public information officer John Lacy. The department does not have a vaccination mandate but requires that unvaccinated officers wear N-95 masks when working with the public.
As of September, more than 50% of Kansas City, Kansas Police Department employees were vaccinated, according to information officer Nancy Chartrand. The unified government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, has required unvaccinated municipal workers to get tested weekly since mid-August.
Also in August, in Kansas City, Missouri, city manager Brian Platt reported a 66% vaccination rate among all city employees. It happened after the city started in June requiring unvaccinated municipal workers to be tested monthly. The policy did not include the KCPD, which is governed separately by the state-appointed Council of Police Commissioners.
The Kansas City, Missouri Fire Department has achieved an immunization rate of about 80%. He has been hit hard by infections during the pandemic, forcing many employees to work long overtime as their colleagues self-isolate.
COVID-19 poses a serious threat to first responders
The most common cause of death among police officers over the past two years was not gun violence, but COVID-19 infections. More than 540 American officers died disease since the start of the pandemic, according to the Officer Down Commemorative Page, a non-profit organization that maintains a list of people killed in the line of duty.
“It’s confusing, there’s no other way to describe it,” Wexler said. “We know that more officers will die from COVID than will die from traffic accidents, from being shot or stabbed. And we know that getting the vaccine can help reduce hospitalizations. “
From 2017 to 2019, 36% of officer deaths were caused by a medical condition. In 2020 and 2021, medical conditions accounted for 72% of deaths – including two in the Kansas City area.
Overland Park Police Officer Freddie Joe Castro died of COVID-19 in August, after spending two years in the department. KCPD veteran with 22 years of service has died COVID-19 in June; the name of this officer was not disclosed.
There is no national police officer infection tracking database, making the total number of people affected unknown. Despite rapid access to vaccines, many law enforcement agencies have reported lower vaccination rates than the urban populations they serve.
“It kind of took a political direction,” Wexler said. “When it comes to a medical problem, a public health problem. Period.”
This story was originally published on the Kansas City Beacon.