More active-duty law enforcement died from COVID-19 last year – for the second year in a row – than any other cause of death, with 2021 being the deadliest year in nearly a century.
There were 458 members of state, local, federal and tribal law enforcement who died in the line of duty in 2021 – a 55 percent spike compared to 295 deaths in 2020, according to a preliminary report by the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum (NLEOMF).
Of those 458, 301 lost their lives due to coronavirus, making it the leading cause of death last year, while at least 182 officers died of the virus in 2020 – an increase of 65 percent in one year.
‘This year’s statistics demonstrate that America’s front-line law enforcement officers continue to battle the deadly effects of the COVID-19 pandemic nationwide,’ the report reads.
‘Preliminary data shows that some 301 officer fatalities have been identified as caused by COVID this year, and this number appears to increase almost daily.’
Pictured: A graph of total law enforcement fatalities in 2021, with 458 total deaths last year, and average law enforcement fatalities by decade from 1970 to 2021
Pictured: Causes of death for 2021, showing an overwhelming amount COVID-19 deaths when compared to other causes of on-duty death
Meanwhile, firearms were the second-largest cause of death in 2021, with 61 officers killed by firearms, making for a 36 percent increase from 2020.
And 19 of those officers who died due to firearms-relate deaths were killed in ‘ambush attacks,’ which also saw a significant increase, according to the report.
Traffic-related deaths saw a massive spike last year as well, with 58 officers killed in 2021 from vehicle and motorcycle collisions, making for a 38 percent increase when compared to 2020.
Last year also proved to have the highest total number of active-duty officers who died since 1930.
The report included a map of the United States, showing the 32 states where officers lost their lives from coronavirus, with the highest concentration centered in California, Florida, Texas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Georgia.
‘It has been reported to NLEOMF that these officers have died due to direct exposure to the virus during the commission of their official duties,’ the report says.
The organization noted that these figures are preliminary and a the death count is expected to rise even more before official numbers are released, as NLEOMF determines whether other officers who contracted the virus did so while on the job.
NLEOMF added that its COVID-19 Task Force is currently working on establishing if other officers who died from coronavirus did so after exposure while on-duty.
Law enforcement COVID-19 deaths by state, showing a total of 301 fatalities in 2021
More active-duty law enforcement died from COVID in 2021 than any other cause of death
‘Law enforcement officers nationwide continue to be exposed to the COVID-19 virus in the course of their daily assignments; therefore, the number of line-of-duty deaths is sadly ever-increasing,’ the organization said.
Meanwhile, police departments and unions across the country, including New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle and Phoenix, have continued to protest vaccine mandates for public employees, with many threatening resignation.
Some officers have even gone so far as to file lawsuits against their respective cities or states.
In Georgia, where most departments do not mandate the force be vaccinated, a total of at least 33 members of law enforcement died from the virus as of November.
Some police departments in states without vaccine mandates, such as Florida and Tennessee, have attempted to recruit officers with the incentive of not needing COVID vaccinations to work.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee announced that the state would promise not to ‘get between you and your doctor’ while advertising recruitment for the state’s Highway Patrol.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has looked into signing legislation that would offer a $500 signing bonus to any unvaccinated cops who are willing to relocate to the Sunshine State for work.
In November, the Daily Mail reported that 12 NYPD officers had relocated to Lakeland, Florida – where there is no vaccine mandate and where cops said they felt more appreciated, leaving behind New York City where a late October deadline for vaccine mandates forced those who missed it to be placed on unpaid leave.
The amount of the U.S. population vaccinated so far currently stands at 74.5 percent of the country, who have received at least one dose as of January.
More than 62 million total cases have been reported in the U.S. and over 843,000 deaths recorded as of January.