SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – COVID-19 is now the leading cause of death among law enforcement officials.
The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is reporting 71 officer deaths from the virus so far this year. That number accounts for nearly half of all officer deaths.
WSAV News 3 has learned at least four officers in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry have died from COVID-19 so far this year.
Lt. Brandi Stock of the Brooklet Police Department died from COVID complications on Sunday. Chief Gary Roberts describes her as indispensable and a caring person, who loved people and her job.
Since the start of the pandemic, Roberts and all of his officers have been sick from the virus at one point.
“I’ve never witnessed, in my 40 years of law enforcement, anything like this, as far as so many officers being sick and dying,” Roberts said. “We’ve been able to continue to do our job, but it’s only because our officers have been so dedicated and have put in so many hours to make up for those who were sick.”
Roberts said his officers are required to wear masks when responding to a call. He said he is not requiring the COVID vaccine but will let each officer decide for themselves.
The 200 Club of the Coastal Empire offers financial support to families of fallen officers. So far this year, the organization has responded to six COVID deaths among first responders.
Last year, the organization responded to no COVID deaths.
“It’s a devastating trend that breaks the heart of all of us,” president Mark Dana said.
The very nature of the job can make first responders more susceptible to getting the virus.
“You have close proximity with that individual, and you don’t have the luxury of asking them for their vaccination status or if they currently are infected with COVID-19,” Dana said. “You just do your job.”
Roberts said Stock always went above and beyond the call of duty — including rescuing a senior citizen from a burning building and assisting a suicidal man.
“He was on the brink of suicide and Lt. Stock was able to talk him down,” Roberts said. “For the next couple months afterward she called him every morning and every evening and talked to him to make sure he was OK.”
Stock’s funeral is scheduled for Monday in Warner Robins.
The 200 Club is looking for volunteers and donations to help support families. Click or tap here for more information.