CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - The president of the Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio has sent a letter to Governor Mike DeWine, urging him to rethink the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan to include law enforcement officers.
“The problem is immense and absent a vaccine, there’s little hope on the horizon for police,” said Gary Wolske, a longtime member of the Garfield Heights Police Department.
It’s the latest in a string of letters submitted to DeWine on behalf of police.
Both firefighters and EMS workers have been included in the initial phases of the vaccine rollout.
“Let us be clear: police are second only to emergency medical providers in answering calls involving acute emergencies. Police are often first on the scene and must perform life-saving procedures that put them in contact with citizens without the privilege, or in some cases even the ability, to worry about whether or not the people are sick,” Wolske wrote.
The governor’s office responded to 19 News’ request for comment with the following statement:
We understand the concerns of law enforcement. With the current very limited vaccine supply, the governor has said that our priorities are saving lives and getting children back to school. Of all of the coronavirus deaths in Ohio, more than 87 percent of fatalities have been of those ages 65 and older. And, by vaccinating frontline healthcare providers, we can better ensure that doctors, nurses, paramedics, etc. are available to provide lifesaving care for COVID and non-COVID patients. It’s also important that our educators receive the vaccine because the critical benefits of in-person learning for an entire generation of children are at stake. Law enforcement is certainly one of Ohio’s priority groups, and they will be included in an upcoming phase.
“Teachers can social distance. They don’t have to get up and touch their students,” Wolske said in an interview with 19 News. “It just doesn’t make sense. Nationwide, we’ve lost almost 400 law enforcement officers to COVID. We can’t socially distance from people.”
Phase 1B of the state’s vaccine rollout is set to begin on Tuesday with people 80-years-old and older.