She didn’t get shot. She wasn’t run over by a suspect. But the 250-vehicle funeral procession Friday morning that led Santa Rosa detective Marylou Armer to her final resting place was a well-deserved tribute, said Vallejo Mayor Bob Sampayan.
Armer, 43, died Tuesday at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Vallejo of complications caused by COVID-19. Because Amer was an American Canyon resident, she is considered Napa County’s first fatality caused by the virus.
“She died in the line of duty,” said Sampayan. “This touches home in so many ways. She was not only a police officer, but a mom, a decent human being … just out there doing her job. What is devastating is that it’s another first responder.”
The 9 a.m. funeral procession escorted the hearse carrying the 20-year police veteran from Kaiser to Tulocay Cemetery in Napa.
The entire Santa Rosa Police Department, 25 California Highway Patrol officers, and representatives from Petaluma, Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Sonoma County Park Rangers, San Francisco and Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and a Sonoma County Sheriff’s helicopter saluted the law enforcement veteran.
The Vallejo Police Department spared a few officers for traffic control.
“Her tragedy underscores the threats that are faced by first responders every day,” said Vallejo Police Chief Shawny Williams. “Because of our profession, first responders cannot shelter-in-place at home. This officer’s sacrifice is an example of what first responders and our essential workers are doing to keep our cities running and our communities safe.”
“Everyone must honor her sacrifice, and the living sacrifices of all first responders and essential service workers by doing your part to shelter at home,” Williams added. “Our deepest sympathies and prayers are with the officer and her family.”
Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Helena, hailed Armer on Friday as “an incredible law enforcement officer, serving our community for more than 20 years. Her loss is a deep tragedy for her family, her loved ones, her sisters and brothers on the force and our entire district.”
Thompson added that he and his wife, Jan, have Armer’s family and friends “in our hearts and are grateful for the sacrifice of every essential worker on the front lines right now.”
Armer was one of eight sworn Santa Rosa officers who tested positive for the coronavirus. As of Monday this week, 15 of the 107 department employees have tested positive, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Vallejo police and fire departments are only tested if symptomatic. One Vallejo officer has tested positive and “is on the mend and should be back to work soon,” public information officer Jason Potts said Friday.
In Benicia, “We don’t have any officers testing positive … and right now only people with symptoms can receive any testing,” said Irma Widjojo, the BPD’s public information officer.
Sampayan said it “upsets me” that there isn’t mandated testing — and sufficient test kits — for all first responders before symptoms occur.
“By then it could be too late,” he said.
Larger agencies around the country aren’t as fortunate as Vallejo and Benicia.
More than 20 percent of the Detroit police department — 2,200 officers total — are currently self-quarantined. 76 officers have tested positive for the coronavirus as of March 31, including the city’s Police Chief James Craig.
Two weeks into Illinois’ shelter-at-home order by the governor, a Chicago police officer has died after being diagnosed with COVID-19, marking what is believed to be the first first responder death in Illinois due to the virus, officials announced Thursday.