Three Pittsburgh Police officers have died of COVID in just over a month | Health | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Three Pittsburgh Police officers have died of COVID in just over a month

click to enlarge Three Pittsburgh Police officers have died of COVID in just over a month (2)
CP Photo: Lisa Cunningham
A Pittsburgh Police vehicle
On Nov. 2, the Pittsburgh Police department announced the death of one of its sergeants to COVID-19. Sgt. Timothy Werner was 49 years old and worked for the department for more than 21 years, many of those as an officer in the city’s Zones 4 and 5.

“It is with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Sergeant Tim Werner. Tim has been a friend to many and a dedicated public servant for the City of Pittsburgh for many years,” Pittsburgh Police Chief Scott Schubert said in a statement. “It’s going to be extremely difficult not seeing Tim at Police Headquarters every day. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. He will be truly missed.”

Werner’s death is the third COVID-19 death among Pittsburgh Police officers since Sept. 26.

Sgt. Richard Howe, 51, died of COVID complications on Oct. 21. Howe worked as a Pittsburgh Police officer for 24 years, and was a motorcycle unit supervisor.

On Sept 26., officer Brian Rowland passed away from COVID complications. He was 47 years old and a 21-year-veteran of the Pittsburgh Police Department. Rowland worked in the city’s Zone 6 unit.

No information has been released if any of the officers who died of COVID complications were vaccinated. Pittsburgh officials have said that about 61% of Pittsburgh officers are vaccinated, which is lower than other first responders within the city.

On Nov. 1, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced that all city of Pittsburgh employees, including police officers, are required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by Dec. 22. Employees not fully vaccinated could be fired.

Of about 3,300 total city employees, there are about 800-900 officers within the Pittsburgh Police department.

The city's new vaccine policy received immediate push back from the head of the union representing the Pittsburgh Police officers. According to the Associated Press, the union pledged legal action against the city.

COVID-19 has emerged as the leading cause of death among police officers nationally, more than gunfire, stabbings, ambushes, vehicle crashes, and heart attacks. According to the nonprofit Officer Down Memorial Page, about 500 officers have died in the last two years. The national Fraternal Order of Police union has counted more than 760 COVID deaths.

According to TribLive, as of Oct. 29, there were 10 police personnel who were not working because of COVID, with nine in isolation, and one hospitalized.

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