Fact Check: COVID-19 IS Number One Cause Of Death For Cops

Fact Check

  • by: Alexis Tereszcuk
Fact Check: COVID-19 IS Number One Cause Of Death For Cops Deadly Cause

Is the number one cause of death for cops now COVID-19? Yes, that's true: The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund published a report that stated COVID-related fatalities are "the single highest cause of law enforcement deaths occurring in the first six months of 2021." According to the Fraternal Order of Police, COVID has caused more deaths among law enforcement officers than any other factor.

The claim appeared in an Instagram post (archived here) on October 25, 2021. It opens:

The number one cause of death for cops is now COVID-19
Yet Governor DeSantis is strongly against vaccinations for cops. What is this cop-hater going to do next, ban bulletproof vests??
Why does he hate the police so much?

Social media users saw this image:

image (34).png(Source: Instagram screenshot taken on Tues Oct 27 06:42:56 2021 UTC)

While the Instagram post mentions "Governor DeSantis," this fact check is only focused on the claim about COVID-19 being the number one cause of death for cops.

The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund published a study showing the number of officers who have died from COVID as of June 30, 2021, putting the SARS-CoV-2 virus as the number one cause of death for officers:

The first six months of this year have demonstrated that America's law enforcement officers are still battling the deadly effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with some 71 officers dying as a result of contracting the disease while executing official duties. The 71 officers represent a decrease of 7% compared to the 76 officers who died of COVID-19 related causes during the first half of last year. However, this would still make COVID-19 related fatalities the single highest cause of law enforcement deaths occurring in the first six months of 2021.

National Fraternal Order of Police statistics also show that COVID deaths of law enforcement officers significantly surpasses the number of deaths from felonious or accidental reasons. According to the website, there have been 764 total deaths from COVID as of October 26, 2021, from the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. This screenshot from the website taken October 27, 2021, shows the breakdown of COVID deaths of officers by state:

Screen Shot 2021-10-27 at 2.40.39 PM.png

The National FOP added a disclaimer regarding their tracking methods on the website:

COVID-19 Line-of-Duty Deaths
While COVID-19 is without a doubt a public health crisis, it is also a public safety crisis. The FOP knew at the beginning of the pandemic that law enforcement officers on the front lines combating this pandemic--more than 90% of whom will be responding from local and State agencies--would be increasingly vulnerable to contracting the virus. COVID-19 makes no distinction between age, race or gender. As we had feared, the virus has claimed the lives of many, and now includes a growing number of law enforcement officers.
Please Note: The following list has been compiled using media and news reports of law enforcement officers who have died due to COVID-19. The numbers listed include all reported COVID-19 deaths--not all have been verified. The FOP's goal is to maintain an accurate and up-to-date list and is working around the clock to support our members as we all respond to the national pandemic.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Crime Data Explorer posted the number of law enforcement officers killed and assaulted in 2020 and 2021 with both felonious and accidental causes of death. These numbers, totalling 80 in 2020 and 109 in 2021, are significantly fewer than the number of COVID deaths of law enforcement officers as reported by the National FOP. This screenshot taken on October 27, 2021 shows the current and previous years' number of law enforcement deaths from felonious and accidental causes but not COVID:

Screen Shot 2021-10-27 at 2.43.55 PM.png

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Alexis Tereszcuk

Alexis Tereszcuk is a writer and fact checker at Lead Stories and an award-winning journalist who spent over a decade breaking hard news and celebrity scoop with RadarOnline and Us Weekly.

As the Entertainment Editor, she investigated Hollywood stories and conducted interviews with A-list celebrities and reality stars.  

Alexis’ crime reporting earned her spots as a contributor on the Nancy Grace show, CNN, Fox News and Entertainment Tonight, among others.

Read more about or contact Alexis Tereszcuk

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