9 employees at a single Florida sheriff’s department died from COVID-19

A Florida sheriff’s office held a memorial service Tuesday for nine employees who died from COVID-19.

The first COVID death at the Broward Sheriff’s Office in South Florida happened in April 2020, when 39-year-old deputy Shannon Bennett became the state’s first cop COVID fatality.

Since then, eight more members of the department have died, including two more officers, the Sheriff’s Office said in a press release.

Bennett, Nikima Thompson, 41; Wiley Huff, 73; Lt. Aldemar Rengifo Jr., 54; Pamela Ford, 54; Stephen Adams, 42; Sgt. Shane Owens, 48; Edwin Sanchez, 61; and Tasha Blackwood, 54, were honored at The Faith Center in Sunrise, Fla.

Sheriff Gregory Tony said 32% of his department’s workforce, about 1,800 people, had contracted the virus since the pandemic began, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported. Well over half the department has been exposed to the pathogen at some point.

That total doesn’t include Tony’s opponent in a recent election, Scott Israel, who was infected in July 2020. Israel lost the election.

COVID-19 was the number one killer of law enforcement officers in 2020 and has remained so in 2021.

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