COVID-19 taking toll on Bay Area law enforcement

Officers and civilian employees of the St. Petersburg Police Department stood outside headquarters and saluted their fallen brethren. 

But Officer Michael Weiskopf wasn't taken out in a shootout with a suspect, by a car crash or an accident. He died of COVID-19 and was unvaccinated.

The body of the traffic division officer was carried in a hearse from Bayfront Hospital to Gross Funeral Home.

"If he arrived on a scene you knew it was going to be done correctly," said Chief Anthony Holloway. "Mike wanted to make sure that person, that victim in that accident, got justice."

Officer Michael Weiskopf (Photo: St. Petersburg Police Department)

He had a soft side, but also, according to the department, resisted his wife's urges to get the vaccine until just before he got COVID-19.

"Mike could probably be here today if he was vaccinated," said Holloway. "Wife and I talked about that. But he didn't. All politics aside, get vaccinated. The wife now has to go through this. The police department has to go through this."

Many departments are going through it.

Douglas Clark, 67, with the Manatee Corrections Department, died Thursday after a two-week battle with the virus.

Deputy Douglas Clark (Photo: Manatee County Sheriff's Office)

Deputy Christopher Broadhead, 32, with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, died Monday. His vaccination status was not disclosed.

"[Law enforcement] put their life on the line every day," stated Sheriff Grady Judd. "I believe somehow they are not taking this silent enemy as seriously as they should."

Deputy Christopher Broadhead (Polk County Sheriff's Office)

Broadhead's funeral is on Monday. Clark's and Weiskopf's funerals will also be held next week.

Twenty-nine law enforcement officers in Florida have died of COVID-19. 

"When Mike was in the hospital, a lot of officers started getting vaccinated," shared Holloway. "I am telling the officers that are out there listening, deputies, do this, please. If you don't want to do it for yourself, do it for your family, your coworkers. You need to get vaccinated."

Earlier this week, Sarasota deputies said nearly 100 employees were out with COVID cases.

St. Petersburg police say 19 staff are currently out, but no one is currently hospitalized.

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