In the beginning of the pandemic, police officers were one of the first groups to be tested for COVID-19.
But when it comes to getting the vaccine, they're not among the first groups to get the shot in Ohio.
“We are not trying to bully our way to get a vaccine,” says Mike Crispen, president of the Franklin County Chief’s Association.
The group sent a letter Friday to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine urging him to include law enforcement..
“We certainly, don't for one second don't want to take a single vaccination from one vulnerable person who needs it,” Crispen said.
Law enforcement is suggesting that if people from Phase 1A or 1B decide not to get the vaccine, the state should reallocate those unused doses to officers, if possible.
“We recognize that there are percentages of each one of those groups who aren't taking it or choosing not to take it and we are wondering if there might be some potential opportunities how we can get public safety in this to keep them on the road,” Crispen said.
CDC guidelines for vaccinations calls for law enforcement be part of group 1B.
But that's not part of Ohio's plan.
Gov. Mike DeWine on Thursday said while a good case can be made to vaccinate police, for now the vaccine needs to protect the most vulnerable because of the finite supply.
The governor’s office sent 10TV this statement on Friday:
“We understand the concerns of law enforcement. With the current very limited vaccine supply, the governor has said that our priorities are saving lives and getting children back to school.
Of all of the coronavirus deaths in Ohio, more than 87% of fatalities have been of those ages 65 and older. And, by vaccinating frontline healthcare providers, we can better ensure that doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc. are available to provide lifesaving care for COVID and non-COVID patients.
It’s also important that our educators receive the vaccine because the critical benefits of in-person learning for an entire generation of children are at stake.
Law enforcement is certainly one of Ohio’s priority groups, and they will be included in an upcoming phase."
Meanwhile, law enforcement says, unlike those who work in hospitals who received the vaccine, they work with even less protection.
“EMS is very likely to be protected by PPE. The average law enforcement officer will having nothing more than a paper mask,” Crispen said.
Crispen, who also serves as the Chief of Police in Whitehall, said the urgency of getting the vaccine to those in public safety first was evident when he lost nearly all of his 911 dispatchers who became ill from the coronavirus and had to use officers to take calls.