MIAMI (NewsNation Now) — COVID-19 is now the top on the job killer of police officers in America, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
More than 100 officers have died nationwide from COVID-19.
“It is very concerning. When you look at our average number of officers falling every year, this is going to more than double it,” said Marcia Ferranto, CEO with the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
When officers die of COVID-19, the deaths are considered line of duty deaths, Ferranto says.
After a review process, the officers’ names are etched into the fallen officers memorial in Washington, DC.
“We have a panel of reviewers from doctors to experts to law enforcement that review each case individually, and from there they decide whether it was a line of duty death or not,” Ferranto said.
Among the law enforcement officers who have died from COVID-19 is Broward County Sheriff’s Deputy Shannon Bennett.
“He died doing something he absolutely loved,” said Darren Bennett, Shannon’s brother.
The 39-year-old was engaged to be married and was showing signs of improvement when his condition took a turn for the worse.
“It was the worst pain in my entire life,” Darren Bennett said. “Worst phone call I have ever received in my entire live.”
Stopping the spread of COVID-19 is a top priority at police departments across the county. Officers wear masks, do temperature checks and use special sanitation equipment at certain departments.
“The officers are going to do their job, but the biggest thing they worry about is okay I did my job, now I am going to go home to my family. They worry if am I going to take this home to my family,” St. Petersburg, Florida Police Chief Anthony Holloway said.
It’s a worry law enforcement officers have daily – as more of them continue to get sick.
“Shannon and the rest of these law enforcement officials died doing what they were called to do,” Darren Bennett said. “I know Shannon loved doing it. He was willing to sacrifice his life as the students he was serving in the school as a resource officer. He died with honor. He died with dignity. And he died leaving a legacy that will outlive his time on this earth.”
Shannon Bennett was a deputy at the Broward Sheriff’s Office for 12 years. Even though the Sheriff’s Office considers his death a line of duty death, the department says their insurance company initially denied the death benefit claim. The Broward Sheriff’s Office is fighting that denial.