SUNRISE, Fla. – COVID-19 has had a shocking impact on the Sheriff’s Department in Broward County, Florida, where Sheriff Gregory told Tony at a memorial service for nine employees who died from the virus that more than half of the department’s 5,600 employees had been exposed and 32% — or 1,800 employees — have contracted the disease.
“We didn’t lose one, two, three — we lost nine,” the sheriff said, noting that the first death from the virus was in April 2020.
The South Florida SunSentinel reported that black-and-white photos of the victims were on the podium of the church in Sunrise: Deputy Shannon Bennett, 39; Nikima Thompson, 41; Wiley Snuff, 73; Lieutenant Aldemar Rengifo Jr., 54; Pamela Ford, 54; Stephen Adams, 42; Sergeant Shane Owens, 48; Edwin Sanchez, 61; and Tasha Blackwood, 54.
Tony told their relatives, friends and colleagues that everyone is greatly missed. A bell rang nine times in their honor. The sheriff was flanked by a guard of honor as American flags were placed in the hands of their relatives.
Many states and cities are demanding that officials be vaccinated against COVID, which is now the leading cause of death for law enforcement officers this year, and yet infections continue to spread among police and other first responders, who are among those most hesitant to get vaccinated.
In Florida, Gov. gov. Ron DeSantis vaccine mandates banned. The sheriff did not name vaccines, but urged his people to remain vigilant, reminding the crowd of several hundred that the pandemic is not over yet.
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