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LA Police Commission head calls vaccine-hesitant officers ‘appalling’

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The head of the Los Angeles Police Commission, a civilian panel that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), on Tuesday railed against police officers who are hesitant to get a COVID-19 vaccination shot.

“I personally find it appalling that the personnel of a department charged with public safety would willfully, intentionally and brazenly endanger the lives of those who they have taken an oath to protect,” Los Angeles Police Commission President William Briggs said, adding that he found it “extremely dubious” that more than 2,600 employees have legitimate religious reasons for exemptions.

“I ask each officer who has yet to receive the vaccine to do so,” Briggs said. “You swore an oath to protect and serve. You need to uphold that oath.”

The city of Los Angeles is mandating that all county employees get at least one shot of the vaccine by early October. They also recently became the first city to mandate vaccines for school children in their unified school district which is the second-largest in the nation.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League’s board reportedly hit back at Brigg’s comments in a statement of their own:

“His blanket labeling of religious exemption applications as being ‘dubious’ when they have not even been submitted, let alone evaluated, will have a chilling effect on police officers exercising and expressing their long-held religious beliefs,” adding that Brigg should apologize to those he has accused of lying about their reasons for refusing the vaccine.

The board of the union that represents rank-and-file LAPD officers additionally expressed that Briggs should focus his time and energy on reducing the huge increase in homicides, shootings, and street-level robberies plaguing the city.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore shared in Briggs’ frustration, saying that as of Monday, 3,124 department personnel have tested positive for COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Moore added that nearly 61 percent of the department has been fully vaccinated. Eleven LAPD officers have died from COVID-19-related issues to date.

“I follow the science and not the rhetoric and the misinformation, and I believe it’s critical that they do the same,” Moore said, seeming to appeal to the officers by questioning their ability to process information and make determinations of their own.

Commissioner Steve Soboroff said he had the “utmost respect” for first responders, but he also believes in a vaccine mandate and hoped those officers who haven’t already been vaccinated would change their minds and submit to the jab.

“I want to plead to each of them, just to reconsider,” Soboroff said. “Whatever their thoughts are, give it a second look, taking away the anger, taking away the ‘I don’t want to be told what to do,’ taking away what my neighbors or friends at the bar might think.”

Soboroff also urged mask use, saying vaccines and masks are what is “going to put an end to this pandemic.”

Around 77 percent of residents in Los Angeles County have received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, while 69 percent are fully vaccinated, county data shows. There were more than 1,111 new COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths reported Sept. 28 in the county.

Frank Webster

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