BPD Remembers: The men and women of the Boston Police Department remember the service and sacrifice of Patrolman Joseph F. Eberlein, who died in the line of duty 105 years ago today. On Wednesday, October 2, 1918, Patrolman Joseph Eberlein died as a result of complications of Spanish Influenza while contracting influenza in the performance of his duties a week earlier.
Patrolman Eberlein was assisting at the hospital with victims of the Influenza Epidemic. He was also assigned to the hospital where he helped the medical staff with ill patients.
The first case of Spanish Influenza was reported in Boston on August 28, 1918, resulting in more than 4,000 deaths by the end of 1918. Boston Police Officers performed many tasks to help stop the spread of the flu while working an average of 73-98 hours weekly.
Patrolman Eberlein served with the Boston Police Department for 17 years and was assigned to District 19. His name is located on the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington D.C, on Panel 5, East Line 34 . His name is also forever engraved on the Hero Wall at Boston Police Headquarters and the Massachusetts Law Enforcement Memorial at the State House in Boston.
Effects of Spanish Flu on Law Enforcement
From 1918 to early 1919, the Spanish Flu pandemic infected an estimated 500 million people worldwide—about one-third of the planet’s population—and killed approximately 675,000 Americans. Many officers contracted this virus due to the requirements of their job.
The names of every officer who died in the line of duty from the Spanish Flu will likely never be known, but ODMP researchers continue to uncover new cases as part of our mission to never forget the fallen.