There are now 29 sworn officers and five civilian personnel within the Los Angeles Police Department who have contracted the coronavirus, one of whom is in critical condition with the others recovering at home, Chief Michel Moore told the Board of Police Commissioners Tuesday.
The majority of the cases have been identified in officers working out of LAPD’s downtown and central locations, the chief said.
“I’m proud of the work of the men and women of LAPD. I think that they, during some troubling and unsettling times, have risen to the occasion wonderfully and are at risk today, as every American is,” Moore said. “The LAPD has not been immune (from the coronavirus).”
Since LAPD officers and employees started testing positive for COVID-19, about 75 additional officers have been tested, with about half coming back negative, the chief said. The rest are awaiting results.
The police department has also been taking temperatures of employees to make sure they do not have a fever, one of the symptoms of coronavirus.
Moore said the department is taking extensive measures to clean its facilities, not just along frequently touched surfaces but in every crevice it can find to eliminate the virus. Certain areas of the department’s offices have been restructured in order to create better social distancing, he said.
As police officers remain at home with symptoms of the virus or to recover from it, Moore said he has taken steps to cancel planned vacations and increase the hours of officers who have not been affected in order to maintain a visible presence throughout the city.
Moore said the LAPD is working to support the county’s Department of Public Health to identify hospital rooms that could be used for coronavirus patients or locations to turn into field hospitals, such as is being done at the Los Angeles Convention Center. He said officials believe about 46,000 additional hospital beds are needed to handle the expected “peak” number of cases.
“As it’s currently being moderated, it is believed that the need for surge hospital capacity is doubling in size,” Moore said.
Moore said the city’s neighborhood ambassadors, who are attorneys working through the City Attorney’s Office and based out of police stations, have begun contacting businesses defined as “non-essential” during the emergency to inform them that they must close.
The LAPD has benefited from Mayor Eric Garcetti’s activation of the Disaster Service Worker Program, which redeploys people who have not been able to work during the pandemic to essential jobs that are needed at this time, Moore said.
The chief said it’s important that the public take responsibility for keeping the spread of the virus as low as possible, and noted the LAPD has been providing instruction to people who are not complying with the local and state Safer at Home orders.
LAPD has also reached out to nonprofits and other organizations to address the problems of Skid Row, where scores of homeless people are not practicing social distancing, Moore said.
But overall, Moore said the homeless encampments around the city have started to adhere to the social distancing guidelines, and with more emergency shelters becoming available later this week, the city’s 13 shelters at recreation facilities are at 95% capacity.
Crime has gone down compared to this time last year, Moore said, and he attributed those statistics to people staying home during the pandemic.
Major crimes have gone down 9% and violent crime has been reduced by 6%, the chief said.
However, traffic-related crimes have been on the rise, as the streets of Los Angeles haven’t been this accessible in about half a century, tempting people to drive too fast, he said. A two-car crash during a predawn street race in the Hancock Park area on Monday killed three men.
Moore said the Los Angeles Department of Transportation is reducing speed limits in certain areas in order to curtail the trend.
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