Many Police Officers Refuse Vaccinations
The numbers paint a troubling picture of policing and public health. Because officers have high rates of diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, their hesitancy puts them at greater risk of serious illness from the coronavirus while also undermining force readiness. Police officers were more likely to die of OVID-19 last year than of all other causes combined, says the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Police hesitancy means officers may be vectors of spread to vulnerable people with whom they interact during traffic stops, calls for service and other encounters. That could thwart efforts to restore community trust in a moment of heightened scrutiny after last month’s conviction of ex-officer Derek Chauvin for killing George Floyd.
“Police touch people,” said Sharona Hoffman, a professor of law and bioethics at Case Western Reserve University. “Imagine having a child in the car who’s not vaccinated. People would want to know if a police officer coming to their window is protected.”
One solution is for departments to make vaccination compulsory, according to experts in bioethics and public health, just as some health-care settings and institutions of higher education have begun doing.
Police leaders and union officials said in interviews that such requirements could backfire or lead to lengthy litigation. Of more than 40 major metropolitan police departments contacted by the Post, none had made vaccinations compulsory for employees.
That reflects a belief among officers — and their unions — that getting a shot is a private decision. “I hate to sound like I don’t care, but I really don’t,” said Vince Champion, the Atlanta-based southeast regional director of the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. “It’s a personal decision. We fight [the virus] every day. We’re out among every disease in the world.”
Any opinions expressed or positions taken here on Crime and Justice News are those of their respective
authors and should not be construed to be the opinions of ASU or any of its sub-units or programs.