The Los Angeles Police Commission requested that LAPD leaders report back to them on the feasibility and legality of mandatory vaccination of LAPD officers.
The request is a sign that the Los Angeles Police Commission is mulling over the possibility of forcing all LAPD officers to undergo inoculation in the near future.
According to the LA Times, the commission’s civilian members were the ones to make the request during a virtual meeting. The civilian members cited their concern about the delayed vaccination progress of law enforcement agencies.
They said that currently, a little over half of LAPD personnel (52%) are partially vaccinated, compared to 64% of Los Angeles residents 16 and older and 72% of adults in the state. Only around 51% of firefighters are partially vaccinated as well.
Commissioner William Briggs expressed his concern during the meeting about the low vaccination rate among officers compared to civilians, and seemed happy about the idea of a legal mandate.
“If the department is not requiring vaccinations and failing to ensure that all officers are wearing masks, one could argue that we’re endangering the public,” Briggs said. “The only option I see is for us to possibly mandate vaccination for the department. I would like to see some sort of study done as to whether or not this can happen.”
Others such as City Councilman Paul Koretz said he is concerned by the stagnating vaccination numbers, and urged the city to “get our firefighters and police to take this more seriously.”
As a last resort, Koretz said he would consider implementing a vaccination mandate.
“It’s possible we can mandate it. It’s possible we could not allow people to do overtime shifts if they’re not vaccinated,” Koretz said.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently stepped back from the debate over vaccine mandates. At an event to celebrate California’s reopening, Gov. Gavin Newsom claimed the state was “not anticipating any mandates” for first responders to be vaccinated “at this moment” but that agencies are “continuing to encourage” police, fire and corrections workers to get vaccinated through “trusted messengers” while instituting “creative incentive programs.”
LAPD Chief Michel Moore replied that he has communicated with the city and department officials and the city attorney’s office, and was told that mandating that officers get the vaccine “is beyond our reach at this point” legally.
Commissioner Lou Calanche also advocated for more vaccine oversight, asking for more information about the assignments and job duties of specific unvaccinated LAPD employees “just so we know where they fall in the department.”
Moore stressed that LAPD commanders and police union officials continue to urge vaccination and keep in line with city personnel guidelines and state and federal workplace guidelines.
On the issue of vaccine mandates, unions seemed split.
The International Assn. of Chiefs of Police, a national police leadership organization, said police agencies may mandate vaccines under federal law, but would need to offer religious or medical exceptions. Their rationale was that agencies already require officers to get immunized against other medical threats such as tetanus and hepatitis.
Other unions, however, like the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL), are opposed to the idea of a vaccine mandate.
The LAPPL said it would oppose a vaccine mandate, but will continue to urge officers to get vaccinated.
Capt. Stacy Spell, an LAPD spokesman, told the LA Times that talking about a mandate before the COVID-19 vaccines get full authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is “premature.”