As we continue working together through the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department staff continue striving to keep the public informed through weekly press conferences, and regularly updating statistics and data on our website, found at https://lasd.org/covid19updates/.
During his weekly virtual press conference on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, livestreamed from the Sherman Block Building, Sheriff Alex Villanueva thanked Los Angeles County residents for their efforts to help protect our personnel from potential COVID-19 exposure. Because of the nature of law enforcement, there is always a risk of coming in contact with someone who is infected. Advising desk staff during requests for service if anyone at the location is ill or displaying signs of the virus, filing applicable reports online, and wearing personal protective equipment gives deputies the opportunity to be aware of the circumstances, and helps keep them from becoming ill or transferring sickness to others.
Since inception of the current health crisis, a total of 1,697 personnel were affected by COVID-19, of whom 1,152 were sworn and 545 were civilian staff; there were 189 cases of personnel who tested positive for the virus, of whom 138 were sworn and 51 were civilian staff. Currently, there are 585 personnel quarantined, of whom 433 are sworn and 152 are civilian staff; there are 51 employees identified as high-risk, of whom 14 are sworn and 37 are civilian staff. On the positive side, there were 1,049 employees returned to work, 694 of them sworn and 355 civilian personnel.
The Sheriff pointed out the numbers average one employee quarantined out of every 18, some of them being quarantined twice because of the large and constant risk of exposure in the patrol and custody environments. He praised their work and willingness to return, despite the risks. “We have this issue,” said the Sheriff, “that we’re going to be continually exposed to the COVID-19 virus, but that doesn’t mean the job stops. We are going to continue working.”
Sworn, civilian and medical staff worked diligently to keep a lid on COVID-19 inside our jail facilities. Correctional Health Services medical staff and/or Department of Public Health employees hold the authority to designate an isolation of an inmate or quarantine of a housing area. There are 5,145 inmates currently quarantined, 252 current inmates who tested positive, and 337 inmates isolated.
Overall, violent crimes are down by 7%, as compared to the same time last year; criminal homicides are up by 7% and rape reporting dropped 30%. Property crimes fell by 7%, and, since Sunday, March 29, 2020, there were four COVID-19 arrests made and 73 citations issued.
Yesterday, Tuesday, May 19, 2020, Sheriff Villanueva testified on the introduction of Assembly Bill 2655, known as AB-2655 for short, and the amendment of California Penal Code 1524, or 1524 P.C. The passing of AB-2655 would create new penal code section 647.9, which would make it misdemeanor-level crime for first responders to capture the image of a deceased person or portion of their body for any purpose, other than official law enforcement business or the welfare of the general public, by means such as a camera or mobile phone. Whether the device is their personal equipment or it belongs to their employing agency, using it to capture the images with the intent to invade the person’s privacy, would be punishable by a fine not exceeding $5,000 per violation, imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or both.
The already-existing 1524 P.C. would be amended to reflect authorization of a search warrant to be issued when the property or things to be seized consist of evidence which tend to show a violation of 647.9 P.C. occurred or is occurring.
Lastly, Sheriff Villanueva introduced Mr. Alexander Algar and presented him with the Department’s prestigious and well-deserved Humanitarian Award. It was on Friday, May 1, 2020, that Alexander helped foil the kidnapping of a six-year-old boy in a Westlake Village Park. Instead of deciding a situation was not his business or waiting for someone else to do something, Alexander took action when two total strangers needed help right away.
The hero was enjoying an afternoon in the park when he heard the sound of voices arguing, and saw a man chase a woman and a little boy. From hearing the yelling and seeing their demeanor, Alexander sensed it was a sinister situation. The suspect wrenched the little boy out of his mother’s grasp, tucked him under his arm, and walked about 100 feet away with him. The desperate woman fought against the kidnapper and struggled to get her boy back. Neighborhood residents yelled for the suspect to let go, but it was Alexander who caused the boy’s release. Despite the danger to his own safety, Alexander went to the defense of the woman and the little one. He ran after the fleeing suspect and engaged him in a physical confrontation, in an attempt to gain control of the young victim. The suspect released the boy and walked away; the neighborhood residents surrounded and detained him until Malibu/Lost Hills Station deputies arrived. Because of Alexander’s actions, as well as the concerned neighbors, a very thankful woman got to take her son home that day. Thank you for what you did together to keep our communities safe and safeguard our children!
View this story and watch the press conference below: