DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — COVID-19 is the number one killer of law enforcement so far this year and last year according to the Officer Down memorial page.
Volusia County has lost at least two members of the law enforcement community to the virus this month.
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Volusia County Sheriff Mike Chitwood said the number of deputies vaccinated depends on the department, but the number for his entire department is less than 50% which is why he’s trying to incentivize deputies to get the shot.
Chitwood is not a fan of shots and admits to avoiding the annual flu shot. But he also knows what COVID-19 can do after he contracted the virus last year.
“When I was sick last year with COVID it matched nothing,” Chitwood said. “Nothing like any sickness I had ever had in my life.”
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Chitwood is planning to offer his staff 24 hours of extra vacation time if they get the vaccine starting Sept. 1.
He said the virus has had a devastating impact on the law enforcement community locally.
“I have a great deputy who is a fantastic guy, he spent 18 days in the hospital,” Chitwood said. “He is now in rehab because of the problems with his lungs.”
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There’s also Port Orange police officer Justin White, former Daytona Beach police officer school guardian Steve Copsidas and Judge Steve Henderson who have all contracted the virus this month and died.
While the sheriff believes the vaccine can be a tool to help deputies fight the virus, he said he will not be mandating vaccines because he believes it should be a personal choice.
But he said he will strongly encourage it.
See more in the video above.
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