OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — COVID-19 was the leading cause deaths among law enforcement in 2020, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Of the 264 federal, state, military, tribal and local law enforcement officer fatalities, 145 were due to the virus.
“Some of us are blessed to do this for four decades and others give what they can in a short time,” said Overland Park Police Department’s Chief Frank Donchez prior to OPPD officer Freddie Castro’s procession Tuesday night.
The 23-year-old Castro died Tuesday after being diagnosed with COVID-19 in July. Five other first responders in the Kansas City metro, including one unidentified Kansas City, Missouri, police officer, died from the virus.
The NLEOMF formed a COVID-19 task force in 2020 to gather and investigate every officer death related to the pandemic and ensure they are properly accounted for and honored.
“They do face up to the dangers that are out there and they know that going in,” Donchez said. “I couldn’t be more proud to be a part of this profession and to be associated with people like Freddie.”
The Overland Park Police Department has COVID-19 protocols in place to keep officers safe. All employees wear masks indoors, except within their own work space or office, according to Public Information Officer John Lacy. Unvaccinated officers are required to wear the N95 mask and safety goggles.
Other safety measures include:
- Any gathering of employees requires masks to be worn.
- All employees must wear masks when riding together in a city vehicle.
- All employees must wear masks while interacting with the public during the course of their duty.
- All employees must wear masks in meetings and other official city meetings, including City Council.
- All employees should maintain adequate social distancing.
Employees should not come to work if they are feeling ill. If someone in the immediate family is ill with COVID-19 symptoms, the employee must speak to their immediate supervisor before reporting to work.