In my last article, I seemed to have struck a chord—or a nerve depending on your perspective— regarding increasing violence throughout this nation and the possible reason that is the case. In this article I am going to deal with another intensifying issue and convey a plea to all law enforcement professionals. I’m guessing I will probably get almost as much feedback, some likely mixed with wrath, on this one as I did with my previous article, but it is all good. I write this out of concern, not the politization that has taken place.
The Delta Variant of the COVID virus is wreaking havoc in Europe. Similar havoc was unleashed in Europe in February-March 2020 before making its way over here. I suspect nothing is different in 2021. The United States has been doing well. The positivity rates have been declining. Now they are picking back up. Yes, they are still low, and that is great, but they are picking up and we are being warned.
So here is my pitch: I urge all law enforcement to get vaccinated against COVID. I realize with some, there is hesitancy. About 48% of the nation is fully vaccinated as of 13 July 2021. Law enforcement is a far smaller percentage. Oh, I know I will not be changing anyone’s mind, but just the ability to avoid hospitalization or worse should provide enough motivation.
Yes, you can still get killed in a car crash even with your seatbelt on. You can be gunned down even if you wear body armor. That is true. But you still snap on the seatbelt and you still put on your body armor because it gives you a hell of a lot better chance to survive either horror.
I serve as the Miami-Dade County Association of Chiefs of Police COVID-19 Committee Chairperson. After learning of two young local officers who contract the virus and now are on a ventilator, I decided to make a plea to all Miami-Dade County Chiefs of Police. Now, I wish to address as much rank and file as I can nationwide.
I am coming from a good place and want to see all of us successfully ride this thing out. I’ll end this article with the same words I have told boxers in the times I refereed the fights: Protect yourselves at all times!
Below you will see my appeal to South Florida’s Police Chiefs. It is the same I share with you all:
In March 2020, while enjoying lunch at the Miami Shores Country Club as part of our monthly meeting, a concern was gathering steam to a point that President Daniel Junior felt it may be a good idea to for a COVID-19 Committee. He asked me if I would undertake that responsibility. I wholeheartedly accepted.
In the time since, I have given monthly updates, sent out articles of interest, including some scholarly journals, gave some projections, proffered some opinions asked.
This time, however, it is somewhat different. I am going to make an appeal to the membership; particularly the police chiefs. Let me start with the bottom-line up front.
We Must Get Our Officers, Our Agencies Vaccinated!
I realize this may very well be a Herculean task. But so was getting cops to wear seatbelts. So was getting cops to accept dash- board cams. So was getting the cops to wear body-cameras. This nation has been doing well. Rates were dropping. The country has been opening up. But low and behold, the Delta Variant has been wreaking havoc across the globe and like early 2020, it has made its way here. The rates are picking, ever so slightly but they are picking up. People are getting ill and more so severely. The Delta variant is far stronger than 2020’s variant. We are being consistently warned by health officials, yet people remain resolute: They will not get the vaccine.
It has become politicized to a point where it is now quite obvious that the highest infection rates are coming from those states were also adamantly against mask wearing too. The lowest percentage of at least one vaccine rates for those 18 and older are Mississippi, Louisiana, Wyoming, Alabama, West Virginia, Tennessee, Idaho, Utah, South Carolina and Georgia. All under fully vaccinated rates under 40%. Florida has a 47% fully vaccinated rate.
The Delta Variant accounts for more than half of the COVID cases in this nation. Dr. Raul Pino, of the Florida Department of Health, talking about Orange County: “We are going to have a pandemic brewing in unvaccinated people and then we’re going to have about 60% of our population protected,”
If what Dr. Pino comes to fruition, you can rest assured that Orange County’s law enforcement agencies’ unvaccinated officers will also fall prey to this outbreak. It will be no different in Miami-Dade County too. We are going to have rising rates. We are going to have more people in the hospital and more people on ventilators. We are going to have people die. And a percentage of that will come from our officers.
Thing is, there is something we can do right now. But time is running out. The officers, the rank and file, need to get vaccinated. The positivity rate is over 5% for the first time since May. It is climbing. In time, a return to a more robust mask wearing again, may be called for. It is something the chiefs need to consider as we head towards the autumn.
New York City has seen a 32% increase in COVID cases from last week to this. Numbers are still low. But an increase is an increase. It is not a decline. And nationwide, it is by and large the unvaccinated that are getting hit with this variant.
Let me end it again with this plea: We Must Get Our Officers, Our Agencies Vaccinated!
Chief of Police El Portal Police Department
Miami-Dade Association of Chiefs of Police
Domestic Violent Extremism Committee Chairperson
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