Last year 9/11-related illness was the fourth-leading cause of death for police in the line of duty nationwide. It killed 14 police officers. The third-leading cause of death for on-duty police was automobile crashes, killing 19. The second leading cause of death for on-duty officers was gunfire, with 45 dead. There’s a pretty wide chasm between 19 deaths and 45 deaths, but the number of guns and amount of gun violence in this country makes that distance understandable. Not acceptable, but understandable.
Of course, the number-one killer of on-duty police officers in 2020 was COVID-19, killing 245. The difference between number one and number two is stunning—but again, understandable when considering what a difficult year 2020 was. Not acceptable, but understandable.
For some, things will get a little less understandable when learning that as of this writing in late October of 2021 there have already been 240 on-duty officer COVID-19 deaths. Regardless of the shocking number of deaths and continuing threat to their lives, police across the country have been rejecting masks, refusing vaccination and resigning in the face of vaccine mandates.
That’s right. They’re not resigning because there’s nothing protecting them from a deadly pandemic that is killing them in numbers exponentially greater than any other cause. No. Instead, they’re resigning because there is something designed specifically to save their lives. That doesn’t make any sense at all, does it?
Well, it does when you see how police traditionally react to a public health crisis. For example, racism.
Racism has been identified as a public health crisis by the American Public Health Association. Police frequently reject training, refuse to adjust and resign over policy changes designed to fight racism.
Now, am I saying that racism is a bellwether for nearly every social issue and that the privileges established by racism set a standard that gives permission for a societally self-destructive answer to every problem we face, even those that seem as entirely singular as a global pandemic?
Well, let’s just say I can hear the detractors already.
COVID/racism isn’t even real! Even if it was COVID/racism isn’t as bad as they say it is! Talking so much about COVID/racism is just a distraction from the real problems! You say you’re fighting COVID/racism but what you’re really doing is taking my rights away!
Some think the answer to COVID/racism is simple: vaccination/education. While vaccination/education definitely help, there is no simple fix. Even the vaccinated/educated can be infected by and spread COVID/racism. Many overestimate the value of their vaccination/education mistaking it for immunity. Often times, even those who want to do something about COVID/racism don’t realize their own infection or how they help spread it. The answers to COVID/racism evade us because too many are only concerned with how they are individually affected and the problems will persist until we realize how deadly the situation is for us as a whole.
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