A Shocking Number of LA Cops Want an Exemption From the COVID Vaccine

Nearly 3,000 employees of the LAPD have filed requests to be exempted from the COVID vaccine mandate.
September 14, 2021, 2:37pm
Nearly 3,000 employees of the LAPD have filed requests to be exempted from the COVID vaccine mandate.
Members of the LAPD make their way along Temple St. in downtown Los Angeles on June 21, 2021. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Nearly 3,000 employees of the Los Angeles Police Department have filed requests to be exempted, mostly for medical reasons, from the city’s vaccination mandate, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times

Well before President Joe Biden announced a vaccination mandate for federal workers and a vaccine-or-weekly testing requirement for large employers last week, the Los Angeles City Council voted last month to require city employees to get the vaccine. The city and surrounding county have frequently been at the forefront of vaccine mandates; the Los Angeles Unified School District board voted last week to become by far the largest district in the country requiring students to be vaccinated. 

The city’s police department, however, is apparently far less willing to comply with the mandate. More than 2,600 employees of the police department have indicated that they’re planning to file for religious exemptions to the mandate, while over 350 have said they plan to file for medical exemptions, according to the Times, which obtained the preliminary data from a source in city government. 

The deadline to indicate whether you planned to seek an exemption was Monday night. But even before the deadline, nearly a quarter of the LAPD’s 12,000-plus employees had said they would plan to seek an exemption. By contrast, around 2 or 3 percent of the workforce at other city departments had requested exemptions, according to NBC Los Angeles.

The vaccination rate of LAPD officers is just more than half, according to the Los Angeles Times, and ten employees of the department have died from COVID-19 during the pandemic. Nearly 60 percent of people in Los Angeles County are fully vaccinated.

Around the country, the police have emerged as some of the most vocal opponents of COVID-19 restrictions during the pandemic, including mask-wearing, even as more and more officers have died. That hasn’t changed with vaccines; fewer than 50 percent of New York Police Department employees were vaccinated as of last month, and last week the city said it would allow cops to get tested while on the job rather than outside of work as originally planned.

Last week, the city of Portland exempted its police department from the city vaccine mandate; prior to that, an attorney for the cop union warned that officers would “resign in droves” if the mandate applied to and was enforced on them, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.  

Last week, a group of LAPD employees who did not plan to pursue an exemption sued the city over its vaccination mandate, claiming that the mandate “further seeks to embarrass, humiliate, shame and deprive the liberty of persons who decline to state their vaccine status,” and refers to masking and weekly testing “punitive measures.”