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Police, first-responders die from COVID-19 as cases rise across the Mid-South

Wearing a mask and gloves at a scene is recommended for officers. Officers are also encouraged, but not required, to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As COVID-19 cases rise, more Mid-South first responders are dying from the virus.

MPD Officer Bobby Montgomery, Little Rock Sgt. JL  ‘Buck’ Dancy, and Marion Arkansas Chief Gary Kelley are just three of many officers, who’ve died from the coronavirus.

RELATED: West Tennessee police chief dies of COVID-related illness

“We've lost members of the Memphis Police Department to COVID-19,” said Essica Cage-Rosario, President of the Memphis Police Association. “Since the pandemic began, we've had a number of officers who have tested positive for COVID. We have a number of officers currently, with COVID, and in hospitals.”

Their job is to protect, serve, and respond. According to, Cage-Rosario, the on-going pandemic adds another layer of stress to the job.

“In a lot of situations, it happens so quickly. Officers may be riding in their squad cars without their mask and have to jump out of their car,” said Cage-Rosario.  

RELATED: COVID-19 cases are still a concern across the Mid-South. Here's a look at the latest numbers.

Wearing a mask and gloves at a scene is recommended for officers. Officers are also encouraged, but not required, to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We're not at that point,” said Cage-Rosario. “We're not even having discussions about vaccines being mandated. Vaccines have been offered to members of the police department.”

According to Cage-Rosario, there’s not a good way to tell how many officers are vaccinated, just like an officer doesn’t know the vaccine status of a home they respond to.

“That's not a number that I know. I'm not sure that even if the department has a number, it would be an accurate number because some officers may have gone somewhere else to be vaccinated and may not want to disclose that. And that's okay,” she said.