DENVER (KDVR) — A Denver Sheriff’s Department deputy died from COVID-19 on Sunday, according to the DSD.
“It is with a heavy heart that we share Denver Sheriff Deputy James Herrera passed away earlier today from COVID-19 with his immediate family by his side,” Denver Sheriff Elias Diggins said.
“Herrera is a 25 year veteran of the DSD and was assigned to the Downtown Detention Center. We ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers and respect their privacy during this difficult time.”
According to Michael Britton, Herrera was four years away from retirement.
Britton is the former president of the Denver Sheriff’s Fraternal Order of Police, which represents hundreds of Denver deputies.
He was also a friend of Herrera’s, and says the two often crossed paths in intake at the Denver Detention Center.
“Today was a sad day,” Britton said. “It was sad to hear a good friend of ours, a good colleague, a good co-worker, a very good officer, had passed away from COVID-19 complications.”
Britton said it’s unclear whether or not Herrera was vaccinated.
A spokesperson for DSD told FOX31 they do not keep vaccination records, but have worked extensively to educate deputies on the importance of getting vaccinated.
Colorado’s jails and prisons have been a hotbed for COVID transmission, with thousands of positive tests among inmates and correctional workers.
“Like anything else, it’s a personal decision that anybody makes,” Britton said. “Whether you be an officer, whether you be a health care worker, a firefighter, or an everyday citizen. Those decisions are made by the individual, whether they want to get vaccinated or not.”
Britton, who said he chose to get vaccinated, says he doesn’t have numbers on how many deputies are vaccinated or not.
He believes Herrera’s death will be considered line of duty.
“We consider, as an organization, along with his children, that this is a COVID-19 line of duty death,” he said.