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Capitol Police officer dies of complications from COVID-19

Capitol Police Officer Devondrez Mitchell served for nearly 20 years

Capitol Police Officer Devondrez Mitchell died of COVID-19 complications.
Capitol Police Officer Devondrez Mitchell died of COVID-19 complications. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Devondrez Mitchell, a Capitol Police officer who served for nearly 20 years, died Wednesday from COVID-19 complications. 

Mitchell “had been out since he was diagnosed with a serious illness last fall,” department spokesperson Tim Barber said, adding there have been no other coronavirus-related deaths since the start of the pandemic.

The death of Mitchell, 51, comes as the department has been struggling to maintain staffing levels. Officers are working substantial overtime as the virus blazes through the Capitol complex.

Capitol Attending Physician Brian Monahan wrote to members of the Capitol community on Jan. 3, saying cases across the country have “exploded” mainly because of the highly contagious omicron variant and the residual Delta variant. Monahan said the testing center’s seven-day positivity rate jumped from less than 1 percent to over 13 percent.

Chief J. Thomas Manger has said COVID-19 is wreaking havoc on the force and told the House Legislative Branch Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday that there are “well over 100 and almost maybe even 200 officers” who are out due to the disease.

This is added to the fact that roughly 150 officers have resigned or retired over the past year, and the department is seeking to fill an officer shortfall that Manger says is around 447 positions.

Dozens of officers are out on isolation, many on a long-term basis, according to testimony from Manger. More than 70 percent of Capitol Police employees are vaccinated, but there is no departmentwide mandate. However, Dignitary Protection Division agents, who protect members of congressional leadership, are required to get the vaccine. 

Since March 2020, there have been 683 positive cases in the department, and some employees may have caught COVID-19 more than once, according to the department. It said it provides employees robust personal protective equipment including N95 masks, surgical masks, cloth masks and sanitizer, among other items.

A 2021 report by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund showed, according to preliminary data, that 301 officer deaths have been identified as caused by COVID-19 out of 458 total line of duty fatalities among federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement officers.

“Covid-19 related fatalities continue to be the single highest cause of law enforcement deaths occurring in 2021,” the report said.

Mitchell started with the Capitol Police in 2003 and served in the Senate Division. 

“Our hearts go out to his wife and daughter,” Barber said. “Our Wellness Division and peer support counselors are offering support to our workforce.”

Union Chairman Gus Papathanasiou did not respond to a request for comment.

Chris Cioffi contributed to this report.

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