As Covid-19 vaccine mandates stir controversy in police departments across the country, the recently ousted Miami police chief has pleaded with officers to get vaccinated.
“We are losing our police officers to Covid, to a virus that is preventable,” former police chief Art Acevedo told CNN’s Erin Burnett on Monday. “I just wish people would pay attention to the data.”
Covid-19 has become the leading cause of death among officers, despite law enforcement being among the first groups eligible to receive the vaccine at the end of 2020. And although many areas across the country are mandating vaccines for their officers, police and their unions have often resisted.
Acevedo has backed Covid-19 mandates, a stance that contributed to the Miami City Commission voting unanimously to remove him from his position Thursday.
When asked why he felt it necessary to speak out, Acevedo said it’s because he loves his workforce. He said the hardest thing to do is go to one of your officers’ funerals.
“It’s something that whether it’s a gunshot or it’s a virus, it is permanent and fatal,” Acevedo said. “So, we have to love our brothers and sisters and sometimes we have to, you know, try to encourage them.”
Police are still members of the community, and as such had been subject to the politicization of a public health issue, Acevedo said.
“I would say take a time out, let’s take a step back, put the emotion aside and just start getting information from public health authorities and understand that we have a responsibility not just to ourselves but or families,” Acevedo said.
And as much as vaccines are necessary to prevent illness in police and their families, they are also important in helping departments uphold their responsibility to protect their communities, he said.
“I know cops. They are good people with good hearts, and I don’t think anyone would want to unwittingly infect somebody,” he said. “We need to go out and get vaccinated just like our family and friends do.”
Acevedo, who began as Miami police chief in April, lost his job after the Miami City Commission voted unanimously to affirm an earlier suspension and immediately remove him from his position.
It was a dramatic fall for Acevedo, who was the first Latino to lead the police department in Houston, and was dubbed by Miami’s mayor as the “Tom Brady or the Michael Jordan of police chiefs,” when he was hired.
Acevedo propelled himself to the national stage as a police leader who has been highly vocal in discussions about police reform and public safety, calling for national standards on the use of force by police and marching with protesters after George Floyd was killed by officers in Minneapolis.
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