Los Angeles police officers will be barred from working overtime at major events or off-duty security at venues like Dodgers Stadium or Staples Center unless they get vaccinated against the coronavirus or, if a venue allows it, secure a negative test, LAPD leaders announced Friday.
The move came in response to policies imposed by AEG — the operator of L.A. Live and Staples Center, among other sites — as well as a new L.A. County rule for events with more than 10,000 people. The restrictions will put additional pressure on LAPD officers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and comes amid mounting frustration that the department’s rate of vaccination lags far behind the general public, raising concerns about the risk to community members who interact with officers.
Although the city of L.A. has required employees to be fully vaccinated or receive an exemption for religious or medical reasons by early October, as of this week, just 54% of the LAPD’s approximately 13,000 employees have received one of the COVID-19 vaccines.
More than 2,600 LAPD employees have indicated that they plan to pursue religious exemptions, while more than 360 plan to seek an exclusion from the vaccine for medical reasons.
One LAPD supervisor, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the measure, framed the new restrictions on overtime eligibility as a way to hit vaccine opponents in their wallet.
“You are going to see an increase in vaccinations starting now. It is all about overtime money for many of the officers,” the supervisor told The Times.
In a memorandum to officers, Cmdr. T. Scott Harrelson said that those who cannot provide proof of vaccination, nor a negative test within 48 hours, would not be permitted to work or entitled to payment for overtime.
Harrelson wrote that the new policy was adopted by the LAPD because of vaccine protocols set to take effect next week at venues operated by AEG, including Staples Center, L.A. Live, Microsoft Theater and the Los Angeles Convention Center.
The memo also noted that an L.A. County rule that takes effect Oct. 1 mandates that anyone attending or working at a so-called “mega event,” which has 10,000 or more people, must be fully vaccinated. Venues subject to that narrower vaccine requirement included the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Dodgers Stadium and Banc of California Stadium.
Officers were also warned that the LAPD would not be providing coronavirus tests “for the sole purpose of working overtime shifts.”
“The employee will be responsible for obtaining a Covid test on their own for this purpose,” the memo noted.
Ten LAPD employees have died from COVID-19, and thousands have been infected. Moore told the Police Commission on Tuesday that there had been 66 new infections in the department in the last two weeks, with more than 140 employees at home recovering and four hospitalized.
A group of LAPD employees filed a federal lawsuit challenging the vaccination mandate, arguing that it violates their constitutional rights to privacy and due process. Among those who sued are employees “who could not assert a medical or religious exemption,” as well as those who contend they have natural antibodies from contracting the coronavirus, according to the legal complaint, filed Saturday in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.
On Monday, L.A. City Atty. Mike Feuer called the lawsuit “much more political statement than it is a sound legal argument” and said he was confident it would fail to overturn the city requirement.