By Peter D'Oench

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – South Miami Police Chief Rene Landa says he is alarmed and troubled by a new published report about how many officers have died as a result of the coronavirus.

CBS4 News partner “The Miami Herald” reports that 28 of the 33 officers who have died in the line of duty in the past two years have been killed by COVID-19.

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The newspaper reports that Florida accounts for more than 10 percent of all COVID-19 deaths and that most victims are in their 40s and 50s.

Landa, who is President of the Miami-Dade Association of Chiefs of Police, told CBS4’s Peter D’Oench, “It is amazing that normally the two top killers of police are gunfire and car accidents but now COVID has moved ahead of that for our officers.”

Landa said, “People have to get vaccinated. That is what we emphasize with our officers. We are not forcing officers to do that. We can’t do that. But we advise them to do their research, study their history. Talk to their doctors. We care about our personnel and our families. Some officers who are resistant are not comfortable with that.”

Landa has been very pro-active during the Pandemic. He said 33 of his 58 employees have been vaccinated. That is about 60 per cent of them and that percentage has not changed in the past few months.

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South Florida P.B.A. President Steadman Stahl says that is about the same percentage for Miami-Dade Police Officers.

”I don’t have exact numbers but I believe it is closer to 60 per cent,” he said. “Most of the older officers have gotten vaccinated but it is the younger officers who have the fear of it. It is the unknown and the mistrust of government. Also politics have come in to play.”

Stahl said, “I think it is important that everyone get the vaccine. I encourage everyone and I say that as Steadman Stahl. Officers are encouraged to do that but for employers to mandate that, that is still another question as a condition of employment.”

CBS4 reached out to other agencies including Miami-Dade Police and the Broward Sheriffs Office and Fort Lauderdale Police. They all said they do not keep track of the number of officers who have been vaccinated.

The deaths of law-enforcement officers from COVID-19 have lead to some haunting images in South Florida.

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On November 9th bagpipes were played at a memorial service in Sunrise as the Broward Sheriffs Office 9 of its employees who had lost their lives.

Peter D'Oench