Consider that. Around 50 officers a year have been killed by gunfire over the past few years. The threat that an officer might be killed by an armed suspect is used to justify police violence against civilians—including unarmed ones—all the time. But, apparently, a virus that kills more than four times that number is not, to many police, an adequate reason to get a free, safe shot.
“If this was cops getting shot on the streets of America today at this number, there would be outrage,” Chuck Wexler, the executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, told The New York Times. “This is an issue that begs for leadership and putting politics aside. And that’s exactly the opposite of what’s happening right now.”
Instead, the Los Angeles County sheriff won’t enforce a county vaccine mandate. San Jose, California, caved to police whining and allowed unvaccinated officers to stay on through the end of the year. “Dozens” of Massachusetts state troopers reportedly threatened to resign rather than be vaccinated, and though only one had done so at the time the threat went public, the president of the State Police Association of Massachusetts is still claiming that dozens of resignations are coming. (There are around 1,500 uniformed state police in Massachusetts, so dozens might still be less than 2%.)
Orange County, Florida, Sheriff John Mina attributed some vaccine resistance to police encountering “violent criminals all the time carrying guns, and I think they think that may be more of a threat.” Except that far more officers have died of COVID-19 during the pandemic than at the hands of violent criminals carrying guns, so at a minimum, their risk assessment is poor.
Local government leaders tell the Times that officers have leverage because there are a lot of job openings and not a lot of applicants. But the same is true in other industries that have stuck it out and found that a lot of the screaming about resigning rather than being vaccinated evaporate in the face of a credible threat of job loss. The major issue here looks like police are accustomed to getting their way whenever they make a stink, and think their feelings should trump public health. They should have learned differently before now, but it’s not too late for the lesson to come. And if, in the end, police want to defund themselves rather than do the right thing to protect themselves and the public from a deadly pandemic? I guess it’s their call.