It appears the whole “blue lives matter” thing doesn’t always apply in the minds of many cops and police union members across the nation.
Sure, they’ll go full “back the blue” in the face of protests against police violence or whenever a story pops up about cops being killed in the line of duty. But when it comes to keeping officers safe from a deadly virus during a global pandemic, far too many members of law enforcement are failing to keep that same energy.
According to a report published by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), the leading cause of death for federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers nationwide isn’t gun violence or accused criminals resisting authority. It’s COVID-19.
The report states that 71 officers died of COVID-19-related causes from Jan. 1 to June 30 of this year. That number is higher than the number of officers who have died from firearm- and traffic-related incidents combined, and it’s only getting worse as that number has increased to 133 to date this year, according to the report.
The NLEOMF also said more police officers died of COVID-19 than any other cause last year as well.
So now the question is: Why are so many police unions across the nation fighting so hard against mandates requiring them to be vaccinated?
Sherrilyn Ifill, the President & Director-Counsel of NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, brought attention to that unfortunate dichotomy in a tweet Thursday night.
Last month, just after the FDA officially approved the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declared that city employees “are absolutely going to be required to be vaccinated,” according to NBC News.
“We absolutely have to have a vaccine mandate,” Lightfoot continued. “It’s for the safety of all involved, particularly members of the public who are interacting with city employees on a daily basis.”
In response, John Catanzara, the president of Chicago’s Fraternal Order of Police, counter-declared that he and the officers he represents wouldn’t be complying with any vaccine mandates.
“It cannot be mandated,” Catanzara told the Chicago Sun-Times. “It’s that simple. Our members don’t want to be mandated to do anything like that.”
Catanzara and his union aren’t alone in that sentiment.
According to NBC, police unions in New York, Oklahoma and Washington state have also decided it’s their duty to infect and serve, rather than protect themselves and the general public from the possibility of contracting and spreading the virus.
In fact, police unions in Oregon, New Jersey — where 22 officers died of COVID-19 just last week, according to Newsweek — California and elsewhere across the country have also reportedly pushed back against vaccine mandates where they have been instituted or proposed.
Listen: There are plenty of us who have contempt for police in America for various reasons, but no decent person wants to see cops die in ways that were easily preventable.
If you’re a police officer or any other kind of essential worker, it is imperative that you get vaccinated for the safety of all—and that includes yourself.