Letters to the Editor: L.A. cops, do you actually care about us? Asking for the vaccinated

Half a dozen masked Los Angeles Police Department officers stand in front of a barrier.
Los Angeles Police Department officers keep an eye on an anti-vaccine protest in downtown L.A. on Sept. 18.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: I found an appalling commonality between your reporting on the Los Angeles Police Department’s increasing use of dispersal orders and articles on police officers and firefighters refusing COVID-19 vaccination.

On the surface these articles are not related, but I believe they all reflect a long-standing lack of moral leadership and a startling lack of concern by the rank-and-file of the risks they pose to the public they supposedly serve.

As to the misuse and overuse of dispersal orders (and lack of required recordkeeping), often resulting in brutal enforcement actions against protesters, attorney Carol Sobel cut to the chase: “It isn’t not knowing what they’re doing. It’s not caring.”


Notwithstanding clear LAPD policies to the contrary, and after some two decades of settlements supposedly strengthening the rules and awards of millions of dollars (at taxpayer expense) in damages to demonstrators, Sobel noted, “I’m just stunned that 20 years later, we’re still in the same position.”

How do we better communicate to the “public servants” that the situation must change? Perhaps a good first step would be to remove from our police and fire departments those unwilling to vaccinate without good cause. Protecting the public must take priority.

Kay Virginia Webster, Agoura Hills


To the editor: The standard argument for public safety employees being required to vaccinate is that they interact with the public and should be vaccinated to reduce their chances of infecting the people they serve. However, a suspiciously high percentage of these public servants is filing claims of religious or medical exemptions to the vaccine mandate.

We rely on these public servants to act rationally in difficult situations and be truthful and well-informed. We must be able to rely on their integrity.

Do we really want people in these roles who get their information from questionable sources, think they have secret inside knowledge or are science deniers? Do we want people who think they’re above the rest of us or who lie about their religion or medical history?


Never mind the contagion risk — refusing to be vaccinated and lying about reasons for doing so should be reason enough to dismiss first responders from their positions of trust.

Richard Sigler, San Pedro


To the editor: After reading about vaccine refusal in the police and fire departments, I feel that now is the perfect time to begin replacing the recalcitrant and ignorant officers and firefighters with men and women who are informed, wise and honest.

The pandemic has given us the opportunity to improve and diversify both departments. Give the misinformed employees 30 days off without pay to become better informed and get vaccinated. Then, fire them if they do not vaccinate.

We are not paying our police officers and firefighters to be stupid, and we are not paying our civilian leadership to be wishy-washy. Religious exemptions only show us how many are willing to lie, and how many so-called religious leaders are willing to deceive us.

Steven T. Lee, Oxnard


To the editor: It is unimaginable to me how any first responder could think that the residents of this city would continue to have faith and trust in them if they continue to fight the vaccination mandate.

The resistance is utterly ludicrous and calls into doubt the judgment of our public servants and their dedication to serving the public.

If their desire to actually serve is real, they would be vaccinated, as I and my fellow teachers have been all across the state.

Michelle Hurt, Los Angeles


To the editor: Remember back in the 1980s when AIDS first became widespread in the U.S. and many people were frightened that it could be transmitted through casual contact, so we fired all public servants with the disease and kicked them out of schools?

Oh wait, we didn’t do that.

Today, many people sincerely believe that the unvaccinated are a singular threat to their health, and we are basing public policy on their irrational fears.

The fact is that vaccinated people can contract and transmit the virus, and this is not rare. Failing to acknowledge this contributes to ignorance and irrational fears.

Kevin Rudd, Acton


To the editor: For Christ’s sake, our governor wasn’t even willing to mandate shots for correctional officers at state prisons. Along with the refusal of many police officers and firefighters to get vaccinated, that gives you a good idea of what we’re up against.

We need an all-hands-on-deck response to this pandemic, not a patchwork of responses. At this rate, we’ll never get over the pandemic.

Mindy Taylor-Ross, Venice


To the editor: The COVID-19 outbreaks and refusal of many first responders to get vaccinated bring up a legal question.

If a police officer comes to my door with a court-approved search warrant, do I have a right to refuse entry on the basis of risk to my health if the officer is unvaccinated?

Frank Colver, Newport Beach


To the editor: Throughout history, people have sacrificed their lives because of their faith. I would therefore ask our firefighters and police officers to be willing to sacrifice their jobs if their faith does not permit vaccination.

Leslie Silverman, Long Beach


To the editor: Is there any connection between vaccine resistance and those who think the 2020 election was stolen?

I have no idea why persons suffering the effects of a serious case of COVID-19 should take up scarce intensive care unit beds. If you willfully increase your risk of getting infected, I firmly believe you must live with the consequences.

John Sheehan, Camarillo