Santa Rosa police officer dies from coronavirus; first death in Napa County
A veteran Santa Rosa police officer died Tuesday of complications caused by the coronavirus, marking the first death from the fast-moving disease in a Sonoma County law enforcement agency.
Detective Marylou Armer was 43 and lived in American Canyon. She had served in the Santa Rosa Police Department for more than 20 years, Santa Rosa Police Chief Ray Navarro said in a statement. She was one of the first employees to test positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
“Tragic news out of Santa Rosa today that one of its police officers passed away from COVID-19,” said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, in a tweet. “Jan and I are thinking of her family, her brothers and sisters on the force and everyone in our community impacted by this news.”
Armer is the first Napa County resident to die from COVID-19.
She was most recently assigned to the domestic violence sexual assault team, Navarro said. She started as a field evidence technician in 1999 and became a police officer in 2008. The chief worked with her when she was a field evidence tech and supervised her on one of his early overnight shifts, according to an internal memo about her death.
“She was always proactive and there with a smile,” he wrote. “We are all going to miss her terribly.”
Armer was among the eight sworn officers in the Santa Rosa Police Department who had tested positive for the virus as of Monday. The department has more than 170 officers. As of Monday, 107 department employees had been tested for COVID-19, and 92 of them tested negative.
Ronald Lawrence, the president of the California Police Officers’ Association, said Armer’s death was, to his knowledge, the first in the state involving a sworn officer infected by the virus.
He offered his condolences to Armer’s family and co-workers at the Santa Rosa Police Department, saying that Armer’s death will be felt among police agencies throughout California.
Lawrence, who oversees the Citrus Heights Police Department in Sacramento County, said he and his officers planned to wear a black band over their badges in honor of Armer’s passing.
“This underscores the criticalness of the situation,” he said. “It’s a saddening and very sobering reality for all of our first responders who are out there working in this unprecedented time.”
The association began the process of tracking how many officers have tested positive for the virus last week, though that information was not yet compiled as of Tuesday afternoon, Lawrence added.
Sonoma County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Susan Gorin said she spoke with Santa Rosa Mayor Tom Schwedhelm, who told her the city planned to lower flags to half-staff to commemorate Armer. Gorin has requested the county to do the same.
The Santa Rosa City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday night was canceled because of Armer’s death, according to a city spokeswoman.
Staff Writers Nashelly Chavez, Mary Callahan, Tyler Silvy and Will Schmitt contributed to this report. You can reach Staff Writer Chantelle Lee at 707-521-5337 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.