More than 2,600 employees with the Los Angeles Police Department will seek religious exemptions for their vaccinations, mandated for all public employees in the city by next Tuesday, Oct. 5, in a move the leader of the civilian panel that oversees the department called “appalling.”
William Briggs, president of The Los Angeles Police Commission, told The Los Angeles Times that it is “extremely dubious” that 2,600 of the department’s personnel have genuine medical or religious reasons for exemption.
“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,” Briggs told The Times.
About 60 percent of the department’s workforce, which includes approximately 10,000 officers and 3,000 civilian personnel, have been fully vaccinated so far, according to ABC7.
Brigg’s comments were strongly condemned by the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the officers’ union, who rebuked Briggs’ comments as “blanket labeling,” and demanded an apology.
“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,” the Los Angeles Police Protective League’s board wrote in response to The Times.
“Mr. Briggs should apologize to all those he has accused of lying without any evidence to back it up and focus his time on reducing what is far from ‘dubious’: the huge increase in homicides, shootings, and street-level robberies plaguing our city.”
LAPD Chief of Police Michael Moore told reporters he share’s Briggs’ disappointment, but will follow the directives of city officials.
“It is a bit frustrating to see still a core group of our organization that has continued to decline or refuse to take this vaccine,” Moore said in an interview with ABC7. “We want to follow the science. … This vaccination saves lives.”
A study by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund found that of the 264 officers who died while serving in 2020, over half were COVID-19 related.
The Officer Down Memorial Fund also found COVID-19 to be the leading killer of law enforcement officers in 2021.