The Deadline's Here For LAPD Officers And Other City Employees To Get Their First COVID-19 Shot
All L.A. City employees, including police officers and firefighters, must receive their first COVID-19 vaccination no later than the end of the day Tuesday if they plan to take the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna shot, under a new ordinance designed to combat the spread of the virus.
The ordinance requires employees to receive their second dose by Oct. 5. That’s also the deadline to receive the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
The ordinance allows exemptions for employees with medical conditions or “sincerely held religious beliefs.” Tuesday is also the deadline for employees to file a request for one of those exemptions. People granted exemptions must show proof weekly of a negative COVID-19 test.
The city employs about 50,000 people.
So far, L.A.’s roughly 9,400 police officers and 3,400 firefighters have been slow to get vaccinated.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the Police Commission last week that nearly half the department remains unvaccinated, and that mobile vaccination clinics continue to visit the various stations to encourage staff to get the shot.
The department told LAist in an email that 51.8% of its personnel had received at least one dose of a vaccine and 46.5% were fully vaccinated as of June 8, the most recent date for which it has data.
Moore said the department is working to overcome the “hesitancy we see among a significant number of our staff.” Moore also sought to dispel any notion that officers cannot be required to get a vaccine.'
“The vaccine mandate is lawful,” he said. “It is enforceable.”
The union that represents rank-and-file officers has been encouraging them to get vaccinated. It also has warned the city of the potential consequences of requiring it as a condition of employment.
The vaccine mandate is lawful. It is enforceable.
“The debilitating and catastrophic impact to the safety of Los Angeles residents will be immeasurable if the City ordinance is implemented and large numbers of police officers are terminated,” the Los Angeles Police Protective League said in a proposal to the city urging it to give officers the option of taking weekly coronavirus tests.
The ordinance does not specifically say that city employees will be fired if they refuse to get vaccinated. City officials have not said exactly what will happen.
Employees who don’t get a vaccination or exemption would be “ineligible to promote or transfer,” according to the ordinance.
A Fire Captain Calls The Mandate ‘Tyranny’
Tension around the mandate has been mounting among some city employees. One L.A. city firefighter vented in a recent tweet.
Fire Captain Cristian Granucci said he is “done being silent on this matter, and so are many of our members.” The 31-year department veteran described the vaccine mandate as “total tyranny.”
He also threatened to sue the firefighters' union and the city. The department subsequently opened a personnel investigation into Granucci’s comments.
"While we respect the individual's right to his opinion, he is not authorized to speak on behalf of the Department," LAFD spokesperson Cheryl Getuiza said by email. "The individual is in uniform and appears to be on duty, thereby giving the impression that he is speaking in an official capacity."
Meanwhile, a group of L.A. firefighters started a group called Firefighters 4 Freedom, which declared on its website that its goal is "to stop the mandated vaccinations for all City employees." It claims "[t]his is not a vaccine versus non-vaccine issue, this is not a left verse [sic] right political issue. This is a human rights issue."
The county of Los Angeles is likewise requiring all of its roughly 110,000 employees to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 1 under an executive order issued by Board of Supervisors Chair Hilda Solis in response to “the rapid spread of the Delta variant.”
“As vaccinations continue at a pace slower than what is necessary to slow the spread, the need for immediate action is great,” Solis said in an Aug. 4 statement. The requirement also provides exemptions for religious or medical reasons.
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In a memo, Chief Michel Moore said “extremist groups have hijacked the use of the ‘Thin Blue Line Flag’ to symbolize their undemocratic, racist, and bigoted views.”
LAPD Chief Moore also questioned officers' actions in the fatal shooting of Takar Smith, although not in two other fatal incidents.
In a conversation with LAist, the new sheriff acknowledges that, as an outsider, "I have my work cut out for me" in winning the support of the department's rank-and-file.
He was elected in 2018 after running as a progressive Democrat who would reform the department. He ended up fiercely resisting oversight and clashing with watchdogs and the rest of the county’s political establishment.