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Aurora police sergeant dies from COVID-19, marking department’s 2nd virus-related death in days

By Liz Nagy

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    AURORA, Illinois (WLS) — Another Aurora police officer has died from COVID-19, marking the second COVID-related death in the department within days.

Flags outside the Aurora Police Department were already flying at half-staff for the death of an officer just last week.

Now, that symbol of mourning will represent two department deaths.

Sergeant Ken Thurman, 51, passed away Wednesday due to complications related to contracting the virus while serving his community, the department announced Thursday.

Thurman spent nearly half his life in an Aurora police uniform serving the state’s second largest city.

After making it more than 22 months unharmed by any COVID deaths, the Aurora Police Department lost two veterans in the span of a few days, leaving the officers wounded all over again.

Tuesday, Aurora Police Officer Brian Shields, who was also 51, was laid to rest after also dying from COVID-19 complications.

“Often when people die, you hear what others folks say what a great person they were,” said Sergeant Scott Carter with the Aurora Police Department.

Thurman joined the Aurora police force in May 2000, where he served for more than 21 years. The department said he helped roll out their body cameras and dash cameras for transparency, and was deeply involved in community policing early in his career.

“Sgt. Thurman was known throughout the department and the community as one who always put others before self. In both his words and his deeds, Sgt. Thurman enhanced the quality of life in those he served,” the police department said.

“I’m a non combat veteran, but combat veterans look at the person next to them. That’s their brother. They’re watching their backs and they watch the other person’s back,” said Steve Holt, chaplain AMVETS post 13 and retired volunteer firefighter. “You rely on them so sometimes they’re closer than your brother is.”

At least 10 law enforcement officers in Chicago area departments have died of COVID since the start of the pandemic.

Aurora police won’t say if either of the officers were vaccinated, citing employee privacy, but the department’s policy requires officers to either be vaccinated or submit weekly COVID tests.

Outside of the two recent deaths, the Aurora Police Department has not lost an officer in-the-line of duty since the 1920s.

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