US Department of Defense Naval Officer Dies
Corporal Lawrence Only, who served with the US Department of Defense Naval District Washington Police Department, died of complications as the result of contracting COVID19 on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. He had served the department for 23 years. Cpl. Onley was 63 years of age.
Corporal Onley was assigned most recently to the Naval Research Lab. He was on duty when he came into contact with a positive patient. Like many first responders, after coming into contact with coronavirus positive people while performing their duties, they also contract the disease. Many officers, like Corporal Onley, who are older or had other underlying health issues, have died from the virus. Some younger officers and those with no other known health issues have also passed from contracting COVID19 while on duty.
Coronavirus and the Impact on Law Enforcement
Since the news began regarding COVID19, law enforcement, and first responders across the globe have continued to perform their duties in the face of an invisible danger. Thousands of first responders have become sick as a direct result of their occupation. There have been many that have died as a result of complications from the virus. The evident life and death starkness of essential job duties has many rethinking about how to approach their work.
Most officers are now wearing face masks and PPE or personal protective equipment while on duty. The problem has been that many law enforcement agencies have been unable to get their hands on enough PPE for their officers and staff. It isn't just law enforcement; it is health care workers, correctional officers, and firemen. The world has been suddenly impacted by the threat of death from something unseen.
Most departments have also changed the way they are enforcing the law. While the protection of the community is still the essential goal, putting an officer's life on the line to write a parking ticket may be overlooked. If there is danger, law enforcement officers are the first ones to go in, and this is no exception.
Naval Research Lab, Washington DC
Corporal Onley had his Naval District Washington Police Department (NDWP) assignment at the Naval Research Lab. The Naval Research Lab (NRL) has been an essential part of the US military in Washington, DC, since 1923. Onley would have had the responsibility for securing the safety of the over 2,500 civilian employees, along with the security of the building. Onley was accompanied by nearly 100 other military officers and patrolmen in these duties.
The NRL conducts basic scientific research for the United States Navy and the United States Marine Corp. Thomas Edison instigated and helped found the existence of this lab. Historically, the NRL is one of the first scientific research and development laboratories owned and operated by the US Government. The laboratory is highly advanced. Some of its specialties include tactical electronic warfare, materials science, and both plasma and space physics.
Survivors and Capital First Responders Mourn
His daughter and his fiancé survive Corporal Lawrence Onley.
The Naval Support Activity Washington, which supports the Naval Research Lab where Corporal Onley was assigned, issued this brief statement. "Cpl. Onley's absence is deeply felt in the NSAW community. Our hearts are with the family members, colleagues, and friends who lovingly remember him. Cpl. Onley served the installation and our community with honor and distinction, and we will be forever grateful for his service."
Many officers have left their condolences to the family online. One person wrote their thoughts regarding Cpl. Onley and appreciating him for his work. "Always nice to see him at the gate in the morning. Did his job well. He and the other guards exposed themselves to terrorists and viruses. Bless his memory, his family, and his colleagues at the gate."