As the state of Ohio rolls out its COVID-19 vaccination program, police officers, so far, are not on the list.
That’s disappointing to Brookfield Police Chief Dan Faustino, whose department was hit harder than the Brookfield Fire Department, which has had access to vaccines because its personnel also are emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
“You would think we would be up there with safety services,” Faustino said. “I know we’re not right there on the front lines, but we … some departments do not respond to medicals.”
Because Brookfield police respond to medical calls, you could argue that they are on the front lines. That’s the argument being made by the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio Inc., which has started a PR campaign to try to get Gov. Mike DeWine to make police officers a priority in receiving the vaccine.
“Police are often first on the scene and must perform life-saving procedures that put them in contact with citizens without the privilege, or in some cases even the ability, to worry about whether or not the people are sick,” FOP President Gary Wolske said in a Jan. 14 letter to the governor that was released publicly.
“Our jobs regularly put us in contact with people where it is difficult to social distance and, in the instance of answering a call at someone’s house, it’s not natural for residents to wear masks,” Wolske said.
Brookfield police officers are members of the Ohio Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, not the FOP.
Kris Wilster, director of environmental health for the Trumbull County Combined Health Department, said he doesn’t know when police officers will get their turn to be inoculated. That decision will come from the governor’s office, he said.
promoThe governor’s office, in a statement posted by Cleveland television station WOIO, said the governor’s priority is “saving lives and getting children back to school.” Noting that the state has a limited supply of COVID vaccines, the statement said that police are a priority group and “will be included in an upcoming phase.”
Brookfield police had its first case of COVID just before Thanksgiving, and the positive cases kept coming through Christmastime, Faustino said.
“Probably 50 percent of our full-time staff,” got COVID, he said. He would not discuss the severity of the cases, only that it was “varied.”
The department has 11 full-time employees, 10 policemen and one office coordinator. All personnel are back on duty and there have been no cases since 2021 arrived.
“Now you’re gonna make me find something wood to knock on,” Faustino said.
“We take it day by day and hope no one gets it,” he said. “It went through here. Hopefully, youth is on our side.”