Los Angeles Police Department Chief Michel Moore told officers he hopes the city’s “Safer at Home” initiative — designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus — can be gently enforced, as residents settle-in for weeks of isolation.
“Enforcement of it is through awareness, through education, through outreach,” Moore said in a video message and an internal memo to officers, which also directed officers to begin providing security at emergency shelters for the homeless.
So far the chief said most residents were following the “Safer at Home” order, which allows essential businesses and critical public functions to remain open but directs most other people to stay home and avoid gatherings.
“People who are asked to stay home because they’re not part of an essential activity, an essential business, or essential infrastructure recognize that it is an order, a lawful one, and we need them to comply with it,” Moore said.
He told officers the city is entering a new phase in its response to the pandemic, and could begin to move officers to 12-hour shifts with fewer days off as soon as Monday.
That mobilization strategy was last used by the Department more than 20-years ago and can be implemented in times of emergency, the chief said.
Last week Moore directed about half of the LAPD’s detectives to begin working in uniform, so there would be enough officers to handle an increase in crowd and traffic control calls and what the Department called, “high visibility patrols.”
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Multiple law enforcement sources told NBC News senior LAPD officials have grave concerns about coronavirus infections spreading among officers, who would then have to be isolated and removed from work while the officers are tested or treated.
Already — the LAPD said a senior member of the command staff had tested positive, as well as a sergeant assigned to the Pacific Area station near Venice. Both were expected to recover, Moore said Thursday.
The sources told NBC another officers assigned to the Central Division near Skid Row has tested positive, and workspaces there, at the 77th Division, and at the Mission Station were cleaned and disinfected.
Moore said pairs of officers had begun to provide round-the-clock security at about a dozen of the emergency shelters, which are designed to house asymptomatic individuals, most of whom are experiencing homelessness.
Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the city would, within weeks, open 42 such shelters at recreation centers that could accommodate a total of up to 6,000 people. The security needs at the shelters are a significant factor in the LAPD’s move to put officers on longer, more frequent, shifts.