After Joe Biden said earlier this week that "more cops have died from COVID this year than have been killed on patrol," the Washington Post investigated the claim—and found it to be true. According to the Officer Down Memorial Page and the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund nonprofits, which track US police deaths, COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for American law enforcement officers this year, even when only infections believed to have been contracted on duty are counted. Officer Down and the NLEOMF, which says it maintains the "largest, most comprehensive database of line-of-duty officer deaths," both report around 100 law enforcement COVID deaths, more than all other causes combined.
The Officer Down page lists 101 coronavirus deaths for 2020 and 81 line-of-duty deaths from other causes, including 35 gunfire deaths and 33 vehicle-related deaths. The nonprofit says 150 other virus deaths are in the process of being verified. "By the end of this pandemic, it is very likely that COVID will surpass 9/11 as the single largest incident cause of death for law enforcement officers," Officer Down executive director Chris Cosgriff tells the Post. The statistics show that non-COVID deaths among law enforcement officers are down year-on-year. The Philadelphia Inquirer notes that the tallies include corrections and detention center officers who might not be considered "cops," but COVID remains the leading cause of death even when those officers are excluded from the count. (Read more coronavirus stories.)