COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 300 police officers in 2021, according to a new report, including four in Wisconsin. Nationally, it was the deadliest year for law enforcement officers in more than nine decades, and the second year in a row that the coronavirus was the leading cause of death.
The National Law Enforcement Museum released its preliminary report on officer deaths for 2021 on Wednesday. It revealed that 458 law enforcement personnel died in the line of duty last year, an increase of 55% from 2020. According to the report, this is the highest number since 1930, when 312 officers were killed. Report totals include federal, state, tribal, and local police.
The Officer Down Memorial Page, which tracks police deaths, lists four deaths in the line of duty for officers in Wisconsin in 2021, three of which died from COVID-19. The National Law Enforcement Museum report also lists three deaths from COVID-19 for Wisconsin. Both resources appear to be missing the death of an officer, a Beloit police officer who died from COVID-19 in November.
The Wisconsin officers who died in the line of duty in 2021 were:
- Chad Christiansen, 49, of Baraboo, a security officer at Volk Field Air National Guard base, died of COVID-19 in December.
- Daniel Stainbrook, 42, of Hancock, a Wisconsin state patrol officer who died of COVID-19 in November.
- Daniel Daly, 48, a police officer from Beloit who died of COVID-19 in November.
- Joseph Kurer, 26, a Fond du Lac police officer who died of COVID-19 in September.
- Daniel Creighbaum, 51, of Wild Rose, a correctional officer at the Redgranite Correctional Institute, who died in April of a fall in prison.
“For the past two consecutive years, the pandemic has been the leading cause of death by law enforcement not only across the country, but also here in Wisconsin,” said Jim Palmer, director of Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the largest police force in the state. union.
Nationally, police unions in some cities have resisted policies demanding vaccination against COVID-19. There are few such mandates in Wisconsin. In Madison, which requires city workers to be vaccinated, as of last fall, more than 96% of law enforcement personnel were reportedly vaccinated. The Milwaukee Police Association resisted that city’s vaccination mandate for months and reached an agreement in late December requiring all members to be vaccinated by the end of this month or wear a mask while on duty. At the time, union president Andrew Wagner complained that the deal was “very restrictive”. Wagner did not respond to a request for an interview.
Palmer, whose union does not include Milwaukee, said his group is trying to provide factual information about the threat COVID-19 poses to officers. According to state data, in December, unvaccinated people were about 13 times more likely to die from the disease than those who are fully vaccinated.
“You can have any political point of view you want,” Palmer said, “but it’s pretty clear that COVID-19 is very real, and it’s something that needs to be taken seriously.”
While COVID-19 has claimed the highest death toll by far, 2021 has also seen a dramatic increase in road deaths, and national data has shown that to include police as well. The report found that 58 officers died in crashes, a 38% increase from the previous year.
The national report found that 84 officers died as a result of assaults, including 62 who were shot, a 38% increase from the number killed by gunshots in 2020. Palmer’s organization is tracking gunfire. police in Wisconsin. He said 68% of police shootings last year occurred after the person confronted a police officer with a gun. The Wisconsin Justice Department lists seven fatal police shootings in 2021; a Washington Post database of police shootings lists 10.