LAPD commanders are investigating whether an unusual spike in officers calling in sick over the July 4 weekend was the result of an orchestrated protest or labor action, which would be illegal. Sources in the department say up to 300 officers called in sick in what many in the department suspect was a “blue flu.”
An unsigned letter reportedly circulated among the Los Angeles Police Department rank and file last week, encouraged officers to call in sick to protect their own interests.
“They succeeded in defunding the police; what do you think is next? Our pay? Our benefits? Our pensions? You’re God Damn right all those things are in jeopardy now,” read the letter, which was obtained by The Los Angeles Times. “We have to send the city a clear message that we are not expendable and we are not going to take this crap anymore.”
The suspected sick-out came on a weekend with an unusually high number of homicides and shootings and as residents complained of illegal fireworks exploding all across the city.
In certain anti-gang units, everyone or nearly everyone called in sick at once, sources told the Times.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore said there could be several reasons why officers called in sick, particularly given rising COVID-19 cases within the force and throughout Los Angeles County. But he also acknowledged signs that certain officers and units called in as part of a concerted action.
Officers who knowingly participated in such an effort would be guilty of misconduct and punished, Moore said, but he did not have a timeline for when the internal probe would wrap up.