Chiefs criticize Gov. Mike DeWine for not vaccinating police sooner

Coronavirus

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered on Jan. 5, 2021, during a free community clinic held in Mercedes, Texas, offered by Hidalgo County. (Courtesy Photo)

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A group of police chiefs in Franklin County, which includes most of Columbus, is asking Gov. Mike DeWine to make the coronavirus vaccines available to police officers sooner.

A statement Friday from the Franklin County Chiefs Association, a group made up of chief executives from the county’s police agencies, said DeWine is not following CDC guidelines when it comes to police officers.

Since vaccines arrived in Ohio in December, the first doses have gone to front-line healthcare workers and those living and working in settings such as nursing homes. Later this month, DeWine said the state will expand vaccine offerings to Ohioans 65 and older who do not live in nursing homes, to those with certain medical disorders, and to those working for schools districts so that schools can reopen fully to in-person instruction by March 1.

CDC guidelines differ. They say that, after healthcare personnel and long-term care facility residents, the vaccine should next go to those 75 and older and also to a large group of frontline essential workers that includes teachers and police officers.

“We understand the nature of the limited supply, and we certainly do not want to prevent someone who is vulnerable from getting the vaccination,” a statement from the chiefs association said. “However, we believe there is room for the governor to achieve his goal of prioritizing lifesaving vaccination protocols without sacrificing public safety.”

DeWine said Thursday that the limited availability of vaccine means that it’s too soon to include police officers.

“I certainly understand … why a very good case could be made for police officers to receive the vaccine now,” DeWine said. “But anytime that that occurs, that means that vaccine is being denied someone who is in their 80s. …

“We are in a rationing situation. Now, our goal eventually is to vaccinate all Ohioans, and we hope, in the not-great-distant future, to include police officers.”

The statement from the chiefs association was signed by Mike Crispen, chief of Whitehall police.

“During the first half of 2020, some police officers were sleeping in city buildings, police stations or anywhere they could to avoid the risk of taking the virus home to their families and still be able to perform their sworn duty to the public,” Crispen said. “These officers knew it was just as important to have a safe community as it was a healthy one, and we are asking Governor DeWine to prioritize both.”

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