COVID -19 was leading cause of death in police officers for the second year

Published: Jan. 14, 2022 at 5:12 PM EST
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AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - A new report shows COVID-19 was the leading cause of death for police officers for the second year in a row.

Throughout the U.S., 301 officers died of the virus, according to the National Law Enforcement Memorial and Museum. The total number of officer deaths this year was 458 which is the highest number since 1930.

“Law enforcement itself is a very inherently dangerous career. This just adds to it,” said Captain Alyssa Zullig with the Waynesboro Police Department.

Zullig said they put mitigation strategies in place where they can, like using PPE, social distancing when possible, wearing masks, using hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.

“We in this profession are 365 days a year, seven days a week. We don’t get to have the benefit of kind of sheltering in place or being able to work from home necessarily,” Zullig said.

She said the job looks very different than it did in 2019.

“We still have the duty to serve our community, but it just has to look different, so our community relations and our community policing had to change to mitigate exposure,” Zullig said.

On top of addressing additional risks associated with the job, Zullig said the pandemic presents additional problems, like staffing issues, burnout and increased stress levels for officers.

“We’ve had some increase in certain calls for service, such as domestic related calls for service, mental health calls for service has increased. The hospitals are overworked, understaffed, and that creates an additional stress on law enforcements, and an extra demand on what we’re required to do,” she said.

The report shows most officer died in southern states.

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