RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker knows when it comes to COVID-19 and his staff, the risk is high.
“Each and every day and every night is a risk of someone in this office picking it up out there somewhere,” he said.
In a recent report from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, of the 264 officers who have died in the line of duty in 2020, there were 145 confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Baker has not mandated the vaccine for deputies, but urges his staff to get it.
“We are still urging anyone that is a member of this office who has not been vaccinated to please reconsider; to please get it,” he said.
The sheriff’s office said it also sends out a message every hour advising staff and others to wear a mask, wash their hands, and social distance.
“We put out educational material for them. When COVID vaccines were available, we had someone on-site to give COVID vaccines. We continue to preach safe distance and wearing your masks,” said Tonya Minggia, health services administrator for the sheriff’s office.
Nationwide, however, there’s reluctance among law enforcement to get the vaccine. According to the Washington Post, less than 40 percent of the Las Vegas Metropolitan and New York police departments have at least one dose.
It also reported that only 23 percent of officers in Phoenix, Arizona, have at least one dose.
Raleigh and Fayetteville police, along with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, said in an email that they don’t require officers to get vaccinated and nor do they track the numbers.
However, the Town of Morrisville and City of Durham do.
Morrisville said in a survey back in March it found over 50 percent of officers indicated they had or planned to receive the vaccine. Durham said out of its 474 sworn staff, 271 are vaccinated.
“I think a lot of people were hoping it was going to spin out and go away,” Baker said.
“But law enforcement, again, that’s one of those things where it became individual’s decision. To not take it is a gamble.”
As of Wednesday, the state reported nearly 53 percent of adults have had at least one shot.