The pandemic has taken a devastating toll on police departments across the country. COVID-19 is now killing more law enforcement officers than any other threat they face in the line of duty — 716 officers have died since March 2020, according to the Fraternal Order of Police.
Still, there is a reluctance among law enforcement to get vaccinated.
In Memphis and Louisville, just 47% of officers have been vaccinated, according to those police departments. In Philadelphia, just 13% of police department employees have provided proof of vaccination, the city said.
"We have members just like the cross section of the population of the United States who do not want to be vaccinated," said Patrick Yoes, the president of the National Fraternal Order of Police.
Many firefighters are also refusing to comply. In Spokane, Washington, 50 firefighters risk being fired later this month if they don't get the shot. Among them is Tim Archer, who said he has not been vaccinated because "it's really in conflict with my conscience." Archer, the president of Spokane Firefighters Union - Local 29, does not expect his mind will change.
In some cases, police officers and firefighters are saying this is the toughest decision they've had to make in their careers.
Kayleigh Cockburn's police officer father, Christopher, lost his battle against COVID-19 last month. Cockburn said her father loved his job of more than 30 years. Their family found out he had COVID-19 on her 30th birthday, and he died exactly a month later at the age of 59.
"I miss him a lot," she said.
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