They are happy to give you one.
Police officers were among the first front-line workers to gain priority access to coronavirus vaccines. But their vaccination rates are lower than or about the same as those of the general public, according to data made available by some of the nation’s largest law enforcement agencies.
The reluctance of police to get the shots threatens not just their own health, but also the safety of people they’re responsible for guarding, monitoring and patrolling, experts say.
At the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, just 39 percent of employees have gotten at least one dose, officials said, compared to more than 50 percent of eligible adults nationwide. In Atlanta, 36 percent of sworn officers have been vaccinated. And a mere 28 percent of those employed by the Columbus Division of Police — Ohio’s largest police department — report having received a shot.
It makes no sense. I was anxiously waiting for my turn to be vaccinated, and when the opportunity came, I was out the door like a shot and standing in line. I want to reduce my risk. But the police, who are presumably dealing with the general public every day, don’t?
The numbers paint a troubling picture of policing and public health. Because officers have high rates of diabetes, heart disease and other conditions, their hesitancy puts them at greater risk of serious illness from the coronavirus while also undermining force readiness, experts said. Police officers were more likely to die of covid-19 last year than of all other causes combined, according to data compiled by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Right. The police are quick to inflate the dangers of their profession to justify more money and more guns, but here’s a demonstrable, active risk, and they do nothing.
If they’re not going to pay any attention to rational priorities, defund the police. Fire the people who are supposed to reduce risk, but instead inflame conflict at every opportunity. That they won’t even get vaccinated is just one more example of systemic irresponsibility.
Citizens keep calling for reform, especially in the big cities, but nothing happens. If you wonder why, here’s a dismaying article about why Democratic mayors don’t take action against the police. It’s the money.
Let’s play SimCity. You won the race; you’re mayor. You’re an ambitious type who probably does want to help. But you’ve been in the big chair for a minute. You’ve burned hours and hours meeting with the rich, cutting ribbons for the rich, taking calls from the rich. You figured out by week 2 why your predecessors didn’t do the nice things they promised. You don’t answer to anyone whose first fear is the cops.
Yes, you could sub in a grab bag of psych professionals, social workers, EMTs, transit workers, firefighters, unarmed investigators, whatever. But that won’t cut it for the key funders of your town’s police foundation: Goldman Sachs, BlackRock, Wells Fargo, Amazon, Target, Walmart, Chevron, Coke. The rich don’t just oppose defunding. Like NCAA boosters, they fund their team directly. Police unions are vocal; this gang is not. But these are the constituents who keep police budgets safe—and who top them up.
So you don’t feel pressure to make a real offer on cop budgets. The people demanding it pose no electoral threat. What are they going to do—vote Republican? You do not take them seriously. You are genuinely scared of urban revolt, but only from the folks who scare you. The ones at Goldman, BlackRock, Wells Fargo, Amazon, Target, Walmart, Chevron, Coke. (Google any of those names next to “mayor.”)
These are your friends—if you deliver. You know them well from their threats to leave town, nailing you to the wall for yet more tax breaks. And from your attempts at paying them to come over. And if they make your constituents a little, well, broke, or if their services cost more than you can afford, they’ve still got your loyalty (and pensions). When they get regulated, you’re right there to rail against it. If you’re lucky, they might hire you later.
Capitalism sucks, and it sure does undermine democracy.