The COVID-19 virus is an ongoing threat for law enforcement. In both 2020 and 2021, COVID-19 was the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths ahead of shootings, traffic accidents, and suicides. Hundreds of law enforcement officers across the country have lost their battle with COVID-19 in the last couple of years.
At the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the safety and wellness of law enforcement officers is a top priority. To support law enforcement leaders promote confidence in COVID-19 vaccines both within their departments and the communities in which they serve, BJA recently released the COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit for the Law Enforcement Community.
This free-to-download toolkit includes resources and strategies that law enforcement agencies can use internally to reach officers reluctant to get a vaccine and when communicating to the public about the importance of vaccinations.
One of the strengths of BJA is being able to pivot and react quickly to emerging issues that present risk and dangers to our law enforcement and public safety officers. Our work with the toolkit is an example of where we realized there was urgency to a serious problem with officers contracting COVID-19 across the country and then BJA responded by developing a new campaign that is responsive to the challenge.
—BJA Associate Deputy Director Vince Davenport
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the best way to slow the spread of COVID-19 and to prevent infection is to get vaccinated. Fully vaccinated individuals who develop COVID-19 are better protected from serious illness, hospitalization, and death than those who are unvaccinated.
The COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit for the Law Enforcement Community includes:
- Guidance on how to launch a vaccine confidence campaign in your department.
- A sample letter from a local law enforcement executive to members of the public that can be edited and customized to include the agency logo and photos of local officers.
- Two sample fact sheets about COVID-19 and vaccinations from the CDC that can be shared with agency personnel and community members.
Specifically, the “COVID-19 Fact Sheet for Law Enforcement,” starting on page 6 of the toolkit, identifies and addresses specific concerns from officers related to their work. The fact sheet can be printed and posted in agency facilities and shared under an agency letterhead and shared through social media, local media outlets, and community events and meetings.
I hope that law enforcement agencies use this [toolkit] and that officers really consider vaccinating because the job that they do, interacting with people so many times in the day, really puts them at a bit of an increased risk of possibly getting COVID-19.
—BJA Policy Advisor Deborah Meader
The toolkit was developed as part of BJA’s VALOR Officer Safety and Wellness Initiative, which offers no-cost safety and wellness training and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies, with a focus on resiliency. The VALOR Initiative is an ongoing effort to provide innovative, useful, and valuable resources that improve the immediate and long-term safety, wellness, and resilience of law enforcement officers. To date, more than 66,000 officers have received trainings through VALOR Initiative programs.
Access the toolkit at: COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit for the Law Enforcement Community.
Additional information about law enforcement related COVID deaths during 2021 is available from the National Law enforcement Officers Memorial.