The pandemic only started a couple of months into 2020, but already, it’s killed more US law enforcement officers than gun violence, car accidents, and all other causes combined.
By the time the pandemic is over, it could very likely surpass 9/11 in this regard.
When presidential candidate Joe Biden gave a speech in Pittsburgh a couple of days ago, he made one claim in particular that raised eyebrows.
“More cops have died from COVID-19 this year than have been killed on patrol,” he said.
The kneejerk reaction is that it just can’t be true. The pandemic only really started in April in the US, and with all the protesting and friction going on, you’d expect violence against police officers to increase. But that’s not really the case.
According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), one of the groups which tally police fatalities, non-COVID-19 fatalities are actually down for the year, undermining the current administration’s claims that “law enforcement has become the target of a dangerous assault by the radical left.” That’s the good news — violence against police officers has gone down this year.
But there’s a lot of bad news to compensate. As of September 2, on-the-job coronavirus infections were responsible for a least 100 officer deaths, which is more than what’s caused by gun violence, vehicles, and all other causes combined.
The NLEOMF tally is backed by data compiled by the Officer Down Memorial Page. Both pages count the COVID-19 tally only “if it is determined that the officer died as a result of exposure to the virus while performing official duties.” In addition, the Office Down page is also verifying another 150 claims where the virus might have been contracted in the line of duty.
Texas had the highest tally of officers lost to COVID-19, with at least 21, followed by Louisiana (12), and Florida, New Jersey, and Illinois (8 each).
If this trend keeps up then by the end of the pandemic COVID-19 will likely surpass 9/11 as the single largest cop killer event. The way 9/11 killed most officers was also disease-related, estimates show: 71 officers were killed as a direct result of the attacks, one was killed on the flight, and more than 300 have passed away as a result of cancer contracted in the wake of the attacks.
While there is some fuzziness to Biden’s claim regarding what exactly constitutes an officer and what exactly ‘on patrol’ means, COVID-19 is a bigger cop-killer than guns, so far this year.
It’s not just the US, COVID-19 is killing police officers all around the world. From Peru to South Africa, the virus is taking a severe toll, with officers on correctional facilities also at a higher risk.
The global number of coronavirus cases appears to have flatlined somewhat, but it’s still hard to envision an end to the pandemic. With winter around the corner in the northern hemisphere, many experts fear a new surges coming soon.