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COVID-19 Leading Cause of Death Among Florida Law Enforcement Officers In 2021

Sculpture at the capitol building in downtown Tallahassee, Florida in memoriam to the police officers who have died in the line of duty.
Patrick Sternad
WFSU Public Media
If a Florida law enforcement officer dies of COVID-19, and their agency finds that they contracted the virus while on duty, their name will be added to a memorial in the Capitol's courtyard.

COVID-19 is killing more Florida law enforcement officers than gunfire, vehicular assault, and automobile accidents combined. 14 of the state's officers have succumbed to the virus so far this year.

It's up to individual law enforcement agencies to figure out if those officers contracted the virus while on duty. If so, the agency can rule those as line of duty deaths, and the officers' families can get associated death benefits. That would also mean their names would be added to a memorial in the state Capitol's courtyard.

"Law enforcement officers understand their oath of service means sacrifice. Over the past 18 months, that's meant willingly exposing themselves to COVID-19 in the line of duty and potentially exposing their families when they return home," Florida Police Chiefs Association (FPCA) President Stephan Dembinsky said in an email statement.

The FPCA is calling on law enforcement personnel to wear mourning bands the entire month of September, and the group, along with the Florida Sheriffs Association, is designating September to "honor the service and sacrifice of Florida law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty in 2021." That includes officers who've died from COVID-19.

Robbie Gaffney graduated from Florida State University with degrees in Digital Media Production and Creative Writing. Before working at WFSU, they recorded FSU’s basketball and baseball games for Seminole Productions as well as interned for the PBS Station in Largo, Florida. Robbie loves playing video games such as Shadow of the Colossus, Animal Crossing, and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles. Their other hobbies include sleeping and watching anime.