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COVID-19 is the biggest killer of police officers

Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 7:02 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Despite COVID-19 being the leading cause of death for peace officers, many remain hesitant to getting the vaccine.

There have been 479 deaths from the virus since January, 2020. In contrast, the second leading cause has been gunfire which has killed 92 officers.

In Pima County, 57% of the deputies, correctional officers and staff have been vaccinated. For the rest of the country, it’s 79%.

The Tucson Police Department had nearly 200 of its officers and staff apply for medical or religious exemptions rather than be vaccinated.

“This is not behind us, said Steve Kozachik, Ward 6 City Council member speaking of COVID. “And the behavior of, oddly public safety people, is reprehensible in my opinion.”

Some of those public safety people could face suspension if they don’t get vaccinated as per a city mandate, requiring all of its workers to be vaccinated.

“When they signed up for this job, their oath was to protect and to serve,” said Chris Nanos, the Pima County Sheriff. “By not getting that vaccine, I don’t see how that protects anyone or serves anyone.”

The positivity rate at the Pima County jail exceeds 40% and three inmates have died from COVID-19.

The Pima County Board of Supervisors will decide next week what inducements it may use to get more deputies and officers vaccinated. It has stopped short of a mandate but that’s one option which will be considered.

“I don’t want my department to be in that position that we lost somebody senselessly, that shouldn’t happen,” Nanos said. “That’s my biggest fear.”

For more on those who died, visit the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.