Thu, Dec

Don’t Breathe on Me, LAPD


COMMENTARY-If the leading cause of death among police is COVID and 20% of the LAPD workforce is requesting exemptions (so they can be more efficient incubators of future variants?), where does that leave the residents of Los Angeles? 

Almost half the force, about 3,000 officers, remain unvaccinated. 

Nearly 3,000 other LAPD employees have been infected and ten have died. Had those officers been shot, there would have been loud demands for accountability and a crackdown. 

Mid-August saw 84 new LAPD infections in one week, an increase from 45 the week before. Nearly half the department remained unvaccinated as of the beginning of September. 

With the nature of their job requiring interaction with people whose health status is unknown, police on the street face significantly greater risk of contracting the virus than most Angelenos. The LAPD's Central Station in downtown’s Skid Row alone suffered 26 new infections in the first two weeks of August. 

The City’s new vaccination ordinance requires employees to receive their second dose by the first of October but allows exemptions for employees with medical conditions or “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Given most mainstream religions support the vaccine, there have been reports of surreptitious visits to leaders of megachurches who have disregarded health and safety mandates already. 

But why? 

More than most, these men and women have seen the dangers of infection. 

Why are they drinking the Trump Kool-Aid? 

Very few Americans are suffering any long-term post-vaccine complications – maybe 20,000 out of over 200 million people vaccinated (383 million doses as of September 16 and climbing by three million a week). That, percentagewise, is far fewer than complications for other types of vaccines we routinely take – polio, tuberculosis, flu or, if we are headed overseas, typhoid or cholera (1 or 2 per million) – for significantly more successful results. 

As one of those long-haul vaxxers, I can tell you it’s better to have vertigo and limit my driving than be on a ventilator or be one of the almost 700 thousand Americans who have died. I am one in ten thousand but one in every 500 Americans have died.  

So far. 

And police are probably more at risk due to the nature of their job than any other group in this country except, perhaps, the homeless and they interact with those people on a pretty regular basis.  I wouldn’t like the odds on their survival unvaccinated. 

Ironic in that people who routinely demand civilians comply with their orders are refusing to comply with the City’s vaccine mandate. 

Six officers have sued Mayor Eric Garcetti, LAPD Chief Michel Moore and City Administrative Officer Matthew Szabo in federal court demanding a judge overturn the mandate. 

While those who do obtain an exemption will be subject to regular testing (an option that the Los Angeles Police Protective League is pushing to be extended to all their members), testing does not protect their fellow workers, their families, and the general public from being infected in the days prior to a positive test. 

Most people interacting with police face-to-face know that it is indeed face-to-face – whether being apprehended, interviewed, or simply rolling down their car window to ask for directions. 

Will Back Lives Matter realize their dream of a reduced police force? 

How will homeowner and pedestrian victims of theft and crimes against persons feel? 

“To protect and to serve” is the LAPD’s motto. Vaccine refusals do neither.


(Liz Amsden is an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.) Photo: LA Times. Prepped for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.