While the number of infected Los Angeles police officers remains relatively small compared with their counterparts in New York City, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said he is prepared for the coronavirus to potentially sicken more of the force.
So far, 24 officers and civilians have tested positive and have been self-quarantined at home. The department has been taking measures to limit the spread and avoid numbers like the New York Police Department, where more than 230 officers tested positive and about 10% of the department is calling in sick.
In addition, six Los Angeles firefighters have tested positive for the coronavirus.
“All of these individuals are self-isolating at home and recovering,” the city said in a statement
Moore said his leadership team has been setting up a plan for scenarios in which up to 30% and perhaps even half the department calls in sick. These are worst-case scenarios, and officials do not think it will get that bad.
Officers in some locations this week began switching to 12-hour shifts to bolster the number of patrol cops and provide security at eight homeless shelters.
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The department has already transferred hundreds of detectives to patrol functions. Moore said in the last few weeks the department has entirely mobilized, vacation days have been canceled, unnecessary assignments and operations put aside and everyone assigned to concentrate on the essential public safety functions.
According to sources, four of those testing positives are command staff members of the rank of captain and above and six come from the Central Division where an officer came back from vacation and returned to work with flu-like symptoms only to test positive.
Crime in Los Angeles fell sharply in March as the city imposed strict new rules on residents and businesses to slow the spread of the coronavirus.
Violent offenses in the city dropped 14% and property crime declined 12% through March 25 compared with the same period last year, according to figures from the Los Angeles Police Department. The department had reported single-digit reductions before this month.