MCSO Sheriff Penzone says 2 detention workers have died of COVID-19

Aug 12, 2021, 10:15 AM | Updated: 11:05 am
(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)...
(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)
(Facebook Photo/Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

PHOENIX – Two Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office detention employees have died of complications from COVID-19 recently, bringing the number of Valley law enforcement personnel fatalities from the disease to four announced in the last week.

Sheriff Paul Penzone told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Arizona’s Morning News on Thursday that other employees have been ill, some even hospitalized.

In a separate interview with KTAR News, he said the infections in the employees who died were not line-of-duty related.

“It’s devastating. … It’s devastating because of the loss, it’s devastating because of the fear now,” Penzone said.

One of the workers had been with the department for 17 years, but Penzone gave no other details, citing respect for the families’ privacy.

A year ago, two longtime MCSO deputies died on the same day after contracting COVID.

“Sometimes it could be work exposure, other times it could be personal life exposure because they don’t get to step away from it,” Penzone said.

The Phoenix Police Department and the Glendale Police Department each lost an officer to the virus this month.

Multiple sources told KTAR News on Monday that Phoenix Police Officer Mathew Hefter died from COVID complications. The department said Saturday he died of a medical issue.

The family of Glendale Officer Lonnie Durham said that same day he died from the disease Aug. 2.

“It’s probably one of the most complicated professions right now, second to the medical profession, when it comes to dealing with the pandemic,” Penzone said.

Bullhead City Police Lt. Nick Sessions also died from COVID, the department announced last week.

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MCSO Sheriff Penzone says 2 detention workers have died of COVID-19