The number of Los Angeles Police Department officers and civilian employees infected by the coronavirus continues to increase, with nearly four dozen testing positive, Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday.
Thirty-six officers and 11 civilians have contracted the virus, Moore said during a Police Commission meeting conducted remotely by Zoom.
Although the total number of those testing positive increased from the previous day, the number who are quarantined at home fell by 24, to 209. They all have COVID-19 symptoms and are either in a high-risk category or have had close contact with someone who tested positive for the virus, Moore said.
The LAPD is continuing to test more of its 13,000 employees, and officers are having their temperature taken before their shifts.
Moore last week directed officers to wear protective masks or other face coverings as an added safety measure amid the coronavirus outbreak.
During Tuesday’s meeting, Moore noted that crime in the city was down 37% in the past week compared with the same period last year. Other major cities are also seeing huge drops in crime, as residents stay at home. In what Moore called an oddity, motor vehicle thefts were up slightly from this time last year.
The chief said he remains very concerned about domestic violence, as people are stuck at home with abusive partners. While aggravated and simple assaults were down 12%, the LAPD has seen a slight increase in domestic violence calls since March 20, Moore said. Domestic violence advocates will be convening soon in a virtual town hall to discuss what they are encountering on help lines and at shelters, he said.
The LAPD also is keeping an eye on businesses that have been shut down and boarded up, to make sure they aren’t targets of burglaries.
With fewer cars on the streets, Moore noted that traffic collisions were down 9% from last year. DUIs were down 23%, and hit-and-runs were down 22%.
“If there is one aspect of this virus that has had a positive impact on Los Angeles, it’s been on the crime rate and traffic safety,” he said.
But Moore repeated a warning sounded at last week’s meeting, urging drivers to check their speeds on streets that are now mostly empty. He said motorcycle officers have been directed to increase enforcement on stretches where speeding is a problem.
Police Commissioner Steve Soboroff asked whether people should call the police when they observe their neighbors having a party in violation of social distancing rules.
The LAPD will respond to such calls and admonish the partiers, but where possible, neighbors should ask their neighbors to behave better, Moore said.
“Law enforcement should not be viewed as a hammer on these type of public health emergencies,” he said. “The real hammer is the contract we have with one another to take care and act responsibly.”