Some Law Enforcement Won’t Have The Resources To Protect Themselves Against COVID

CHARLOTTE, NC. — Police officers and sheriff’s deputies are not part of the first group in the state to get the COVID vaccine. A concern for first responders says Lodge 9 Fraternal Order of Police spokesperson Yolian Ortiz.

“Officers are always responding to homes, to the community, and they don’t know what the situation is or what kind of current conditions when they’re responding to a call. It can be anything from having to give CPR to somebody, or somebody sick or having to go inside of a house,” says Ortiz.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services downgraded law enforcement to group three. The state is currently vaccinating group one — which is health care workers and long-term care staff and residents. But, other first responders like firefighters and paramedics are already getting the shots.

“It’s something that they have the power to change and be able to get these officers the vaccines they need to be able to do their job and keep not only themselves and their family safe but also the community.”

Tony Underwood is the spokesperson for the Union County Sheriff’s Office. He’s also concerned about detention officers who run the jails.

“We have a lot of detention officers who are working in a kind of congregate community where people are confined, and that’s a concern as to prevent the spread of it in that type of close-quarters environment,” says Underwood.

A CMPD spokesperson sent WCCB the following statement:
273 CMPD employees have been infected with COVID. Nearly 80 percent have been sworn police officers. Vaccines have already been made available to firefighters and Medic. CMPD officers responded to close to 600,000 personal interactions since the start of the pandemic. Police officers are frequently the first responders exposed to direct contact with the community.  Emergency calls for service require, and in-person response and officers do not have the benefit of managing them virtually.  It will likely be several months before vaccines will be available to police officers because of where the state has grouped them. Police officers have spent the last year protecting the community  through the pandemic. We are concerned that officers won’t have the necessary resources to protect themselves.