Police officer dies of COVID-19; almost a third of Fresno County first responders opt-out of vaccine

Local News

FRESNO, California (KSEE) – While the Fresno Police Department mourns the loss of another officer who passed away from complications relating to COVID-19 – around 30% of Fresno County first responders are opting out of receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

56-year-old Sgt. Richard “Paul” Brown served the department for nearly three decades. He passed away Wednesday morning.

Motorcycle officers, a Fresno Police helicopter, and several patrol cars took part in the procession for Sgt. Brown from Clovis Community Medical Center to a funeral home in Downtown Fresno.

The department said Brown started his career with Fresno Police in 1993 and held the rank of sergeant for 19 of those years.

“True to his tenacious reputation throughout his career,” said Police Chief Paco Balderrama in a statement. “Paul courageously battled this illness right to the end…Paul was a fixture in the FPD and devoted his life to this community.”

The former police chief, and current Fresno Mayor, Jerry Dyer said Sgt. Brown was a tremendous athlete who was a catcher for the department’s fastpitch team for many years.

“Paul’s death hits near to my heart,” Dyer said in a statement. “Paul was a dedicated sergeant and a very good officer.”

This is the second Fresno police officer who has died from COVID-19. 49-year-old Angel DeLa Fuente passed in December.

“Our officers are at risk of being exposed every day,” said Fresno Police Lt. Robert Beckwith. “They’re out in the field. They’re on the front lines. Their risk for exposure is great.”

Even with the high risk, Fresno County’s vaccine lead Joe Prado said around 30% of Fresno’s first responders have opted out of the vaccine.

Last year, the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office laid to rest 44-year-old Jose Mora after he died from COVID-19. Sheriff Margaret Mims hopes this shows people the severity of the virus.

“That sends a strong message about getting the vaccine,” said Mims.

Sgt. Brown is survived by his wife and three children.

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