The Long Beach Police Department repeated Tuesday that no coronavirus cases have resulted from a training exercise in which hundreds of officers gathered but did not wear masks or socially distance themselves at all times.
Long Beach community groups on Monday filed a complaint with a police oversight board, alleging that the off-site exercise constituted a dangerous COVID-19 superspreader event.
The complaint filed with the Citizen Police Complaint Commission alleges that on Nov. 5, Police Chief Robert Luna, along with members of his senior staff, initiated the gathering of about 300 officers inside the Long Beach Convention Center and the attendees were not ordered to wear masks or safely distance themselves.
In a statement provided Tuesday, the department conceded that at least one photograph was taken where officers were not wearing facial coverings.
“While we recognize the potential health and safety concerns that the photo raises regarding COVID-19, we have verified no positive COVID-19 cases have been attributed to this specific training day,” according to the LBPD.
The agency said it is aware of the complaint, and is “always open to an impartial and objective review of the facts and evidence in cases involving our department and personnel.”
People of Long Beach and the Long Beach Reform Coalition allege that the gathering took place “without requiring compliance with Health Department mandates associated with social distancing and masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, thereby knowingly and willfully ordering a superspreader event to take place.”
The community groups contend that not only was the assembly a violation of Health Department mandates, “but also a direct contradiction and demonstration of impunity that countered Mayor Robert Garcia’s pleas on local and national television, email, press releases and Twitter alerts for all persons, including city employees to practice social distancing and wear masks.”
The organizations are asking that the Citizen Police Complaint Commission conduct a probe by issuing subpoenas for personnel lists and documents, administering sworn oaths for testimony from the rank and file, and to hold public hearings “so as to prevent the LBPD or the city administration from covering up yet another wholesale violation of the public trust,” according to the emailed letter signed by Carlos Ovalle, executive director of the community group People of Long Beach.