LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges for law enforcement nationwide with coronavirus now taking more officer’s lives than shootings in 2020 and so far this year.
The pandemic has taken a toll on law enforcement nationwide and here in the Las Vegas valley.
“It’s a place that I could just talk to him. I miss that in my life.”
Minddie Lloyd makes it a routine to visit her late husband, Las Vegas Metro Police Department, Lieutenant Erik Lloyd. He died last year after complications from COVID-19.
“It’s that unknown risk that officers take nowadays are faced with.”
It’s a risk that many officers across the country have faced. The Officer Down Memorial Page has listed 240 officers dying from COVID-19 in the line of duty last year, more than five times the number who died from gunfire. So far this year, 97 officers have died from COVID-19, more than double from shooting deaths. Steve Grammas, president of the Las Vegas Police Protective Association, says the pandemic has created challenges for officers.
“It used to be that the things we’re worried about were people fighting with us, people shooting at us. Now we got to worry about this invisible “suspect” in relation to police work,” he said.
He says officers can’t work from home and have to interact with many different people in different areas while responding to calls. Officers also have to take certain steps to ensure public safety, especially when it comes to arrests.
“We have to go hands-on and arrest people. We can’t keep six feet of distance. We can’t toss them handcuffs and say please put these on,” Grammas said.
Some local police departments have adjusted. The North Las Vegas Police Department in a statement saying in part:
“The North Las Vegas Police Department has proactively paused the practice of assigning two officers to a patrol vehicle, which will continue in most cases. We will continue to follow local, state, and federal guidelines as we serve our community."
Lloyd says she doesn’t want to see other families go through what she experienced and encouraged other officers to get vaccinated if they choose, saying it’s like a bulletproof vest for them.
“I would like to see our officers protect themselves, by using the immunity from the vaccine as their vest to protect them,” she said.
Grammas says the pandemic hasn’t affected an officer’s duty and public safety remains the top priority.
“We’re still here for you. We’re still going to fight crime for you. We’re still going to help you and we’re going to our own lives and safety on the line for you,” Grammas said.