COVID-19 adds extra level of stress to law enforcement

“In our service area Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri there have been four law enforcement COVD deaths – three in Missouri and then this most recent one in Indiana.”

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — They’re out interacting with people every day which makes law enforcement officers chances of contracting COVID-19 even higher.

“It’s important for people to recognize the risks that first responders take on their behalf they do it every day; they do it all the time but now with COVID those risks are even greater,” executive director of Supporting Heroes Inc. Eric Johnson said. 

The group provides financial assistance to families of police officers, fire or EMS who have died in the line of duty. 

“In our service area Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri there have been four law enforcement COVD deaths – three actually in Missouri and then this most recent one in Indiana,” Johnson said.

Charlestown honored their brother in blue Sgt. Tejuan Johnson Wednesday with a procession

According to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, he’s one of more than 100 officers who have died from the virus nationwide. According to the NLEOMF spokesperson, right now a total of 166 cases are being investigated for inclusion on their national memorial wall.

Indiana State Police’s annual inspection Thursday was virtual. Sgt. Carey Huls of the Sellersburg District says like everyone else they’re trying to stay safe. 

“We have had troopers that have tested positive, we have had troopers that had to go to the hospital due to COVID so it’s affected us just like it has anybody else,” Huls said. “When we’re talking about patrolling and have officers out there on the roadway just losing one officer can be a major impact especially for a smaller department.”

St. Matthews Police Chief Barry Wilkerson says about four to five officers have tested positive since the pandemic started. 

“As far as COVID goes we are back to full strength so we’re very fortunate but it’s only going to take that one encounter with someone in the public that you don’t know and bring it back to the station” Wilkerson said. “So we’re just making sure we’re following the right guidelines and making sure everybody stays safe – not only for ourselves but for the public.”

Blue lights at Charlestown’s Christmas display were put up to honor Sgt. Johnson until he is laid to rest. His patrol truck is parked in front of the police department. Plans for his funeral will be announced once things are finalized.

RELATED: ‘TJ was an amazing person’: Charlestown sergeant dies from COVID-19 complications

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