The Los Angeles Police Department has opened an investigation regarding a photo showing nearly 40 mostly unmasked officers gathered downtown, officials announced.
The photo taken Wednesday afternoon by photojournalist Brian Feinzimer, a contributor to the L.A. Taco website, shows the LAPD officers congregating near Union Station and the C. Erwin Piper Technical Center.
The officers were repelling off a building prior to the photo being taken, and nearly half of them appeared to be assigned to the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division, L.A. Taco reported.
The LAPD has launched an internal investigation, Officer Mike Lopez confirmed Friday.
The department released a statement to L.A. Taco that read: “The LAPD closely tracks CDC guidance and evolves our requirements accordingly. The vast majority of our officers have continued to wear a face covering or mask whenever possible.”
Chief Michel Moore said in a May 2020 memo that department employees are required to wear face coverings during duties that require contact with other employees or the public. “The only exception is when wearing facial coverings could jeopardize officer safety,” the memo stated.
A half-dozen LAPD sworn employees and two civilian employees have died from COVID-19 complications. As of Tuesday, 2,596 LAPD employees have tested positive for the virus, and 2,372 have since returned to work. The department currently has 242 employees self-isolating at home.
According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, 11 LAPD stations have COVID-19 outbreaks: Central, Foothill, Hollenbeck, North Hollywood, Northeast, Olympic, Southeast, Southwest, Topanga, Van Nuys and Wilshire community police stations
The largest station outbreak is at the Southeast Community Police Station, where 77 staff members have tested positive. Second is the Southwest Community Police Station with 66 positive cases and the Central Community Police Station with 62 cases.
The LAPD Metropolitan Communications Dispatch Center also has a COVID-19 outbreak, according to L.A. County Department of Public Health data.