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COVID-19 cases continue surging in LAPD, with more than 800 personnel now out

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore wears a mask and speaks to reporters.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore, shown at a Jan. 6 news conference about rising COVID-19 cases in the department, said Tuesday that cases had increased even further in the last week.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)
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Cases of COVID-19 continued to surge in the Los Angeles Police Department this week, with more than 800 personnel now at home sick or quarantining, officials said.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the civilian Police Commission during its morning meeting Tuesday that there were 562 new cases among department personnel in the prior week alone, after 424 new cases the week before.

A total of 803 personnel in the department of about 12,200 were out.

Those figures represent a massive increase from the 82 new cases the week ending on Christmas, and from less than 30 new cases per week as recently as a month ago, Moore said. There were 89 officers out sick or quarantining a month ago.

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“The explosive growth of COVID has expanded greatly within the organization,” Moore said.

The latest figures come days after Moore stood with Mayor Eric Garcetti and Los Angeles Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas to reassure residents that the agencies were still filling patrol shifts and responding to fires despite the huge numbers of ill and quarantining officers, firefighters and paramedics in the city.

At that time, there were just over 500 LAPD personnel out.

More than 1,000 police officers, firefighters and paramedics in the Los Angeles region were ill or at home quarantining on Tuesday after testing positive for COVID-19.

Moore said even with the rise to more than 800 personnel out this week, the LAPD was still meeting its minimum patrol requirements.

Moore said officers with COVID-19 are on average out for 24 days, raising questions about compounding increases in cases week after week. However, he said the department still has “more levers” to pull to avoid falling below its minimum patrol requirements.

Moore said the current Omicron variant is causing more breakthrough cases among vaccinated individuals, but also producing less severe symptoms among personnel.

Police Commissioner Eileen Decker said the numbers were concerning, and asked Moore to elaborate on how the department was dealing with them.

Moore said the department is taking steps to isolate outbreaks, including within its jails and at its academy, and is using overtime to ensure that all necessary shifts are being filled.

He said that, after 61 dispatchers fell ill, other employees began working longer shifts. The department also has redirected personnel from certain tasks, such as administrative work or working lesser property crimes, to cover patrol shifts, he said.

He said the department has yet to cancel leave or days off for working officers, which it could do — and which the Fire Department already has done — if staffing shortages became more desperate.

“The department still has additional levers which it can invoke in order to augment staffing” and “keep the city safe,” Moore said.


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