The news comes amid a new push to get agents vaccinated.
James Anthony “Tony” Sisk was a law enforcement officer his entire life.
He had reached the rank of captain in the Sheriff’s Department of Culpeper County, Virginia.
Prior to that, he had worked in several different local departments starting in 1994, according to a Facebook post.
Sisk was a native of the area, a graduate of Culpeper High School and a longtime friend of current Culpeper County Sheriff Scott Jenkins, for whom Sisk went to work after Jenkins was elected sheriff.
The father-of-two was respected by his colleagues, and in 2019 he received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Culpeper Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Task Force for his work on behalf of victims of criminal acts.
On October 1, Sisk died of COVID-19 after being admitted to hospital, the Facebook post said.
He was 50 years old.
“Tony’s death leaves a hole in our hearts and in our community that cannot be closed,” Sheriff Jenkins said. “His ready smile and warm embrace were well known to all. Knowing that Tony rests with God helps alleviate the immense pain of losing this exceptional human being a little. Rest in peace, brother.”
COVID-19 has claimed the lives of nearly 500 law enforcement officers, between 2020 and 2021, according to Officer Down Memorial Page, a database that tracks the deaths of duty officers.
This represents 62% of all law enforcement-related deaths in 2020 alone, according to statistics.
“It has taken its toll,” Sheriff Vernon P. Stanforth of Fayette County, Ohio, told ABC News. “Anytime there’s a dead service line out there, it impacts the whole agency and the whole law enforcement community.”
Standforth is president of the National Sheriff’s Association.
These fallen officers will be honored by Attorney General Merrick Garland during a candlelight vigil Thursday night, according to the National Law Enforcement Museum.
Patrick Yoes, president of the National Fraternal Order of Police, one of the largest police unions in the country, has called COVID-19 not only a public health crisis, but a public safety crisis.
“The National Fraternal Order of Police knew at the onset of the pandemic that law enforcement officers on the front lines to fight this pandemic would be increasingly vulnerable to contracting the virus,” Yoes said. “As we feared, the virus has claimed the lives of many people and now includes a growing number of law enforcement officers.”
It is not known if Sisk has ever been vaccinated.
The Fraternal Order of Police maintains that getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a personal decision, as does Sheriff Standforth.
He said he thought the vaccine would become like wearing a bulletproof vest. At first, Standforth said, officers feared wearing a vest, but over time more and more began to wear it.
“We will eventually, just like the past, we will eventually get to the place, where we say, okay, I can’t argue anymore, I have it, I will take the vaccine to protect myself and my family, ”the sheriff said. “I think it’s just cyclical and will happen in due course.”