Over the last year and a half, a majority of the roughly 40 police officers who patrol Baker, La., a suburb of Baton Rouge, tested positive for the coronavirus. All of them recovered and went back to work — until Lt. DeMarcus Dunn got sick.
Lieutenant Dunn, a 36-year-old shift supervisor who coached youth sports and once chased down someone who fled the police station after being arrested, died from Covid-19 on Aug. 13. His wedding had been scheduled for the next day.
Chief Carl K. Dunn said he had assumed that the lieutenant, a distant relative, was vaccinated, but thought it would be inappropriate to ask. It wasn’t until after the death, the chief said, that he was told Lieutenant Dunn had not gotten a shot. For some others in the department who had been resisting vaccination, it was a turning point.
“They were like, ‘Oh, look, wait a minute,’” Chief Dunn recalled last month. “Those are the ones that started getting it after DeMarcus left us.”
More than 460 American law enforcement officers have died from Covid-19 infections tied to their work since the start of the pandemic, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page, making the coronavirus by far the most common cause of duty-related deaths in 2020 and 2021. More than four times as many officers have died from Covid-19 as from gunfire in that period. There is no comprehensive accounting of how many American police officers have been sickened by the virus, but departments across the country have reported large outbreaks in the ranks. [Continue reading…]