DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – Several new occupations are preparing to get the coronavirus vaccine after Governor DeWine announced phase 1C of the rollout will start this week.
Dozens of Dayton police staffers have tested positive for the virus over the past year, putting a significant strain on resources. Getting the vaccine won’t signal the end of the pandemic for Dayton Police, but it will provide more security and confidence.
Dayton Police Lt. Col. Eric Henderson says, “At our height we had 61 department members off, with either a positive test or quarantined due to exposure.”
Lt. Col. Henderson says the ripple effects of the pandemic have created a lot of stress for everyone as the department maintains services under unique, even dangerous situations. Despite their best efforts, following safety guidelines isn’t always possible. He says, “There are certain circumstances where officers are not able to do that you know if it’s a call for service involving a crime in progress etc.”
Over the duration of the pandemic, more than 70 DPD staff members have tested positive, and the department had to close down the police academy for two weeks. Henderson says last year 145 law enforcement officer deaths nationwide were tied to the coronavirus, and recently two officers died here in Ohio.
But the vaccine alone won’t signal a return to normal. Lt. Col. Henderson says, “It won’t change. We’ll still follow the best practices from the CDC and from our state and local health departments. So a lot of those things will still stay in place: social distancing, wear a mask as much as possible, limit contact.”
He says the vaccine is not something DPD can mandate, but he expects about 50% of the department will get it. And he says it will especially help officers at other agencies that may also be first responders. “I think this is a great benefit for some of the smaller agencies who oftentimes are the first ones on scene for medical emergencies.”
Lt. Col. Henderson says early in the pandemic the department had plans in place for when staffing levels would be impacted by the virus. The next step now is for the department to coordinate with public health to administer the vaccine.