LOS ANGELES, CBSLA – While Southern California is fighting the coronavirus pandemic, the Los Angeles Police Department is working to address the needs of the city’s homeless population as it seeks ways to prevent its own inhabitants from returning the virus to their loved ones.

In an interview on Thursday, Los Angeles Police Chief Michelle Moore said officers have been lined up to shelters across the city to ensure the safety of those currently suffering from a housing shortage.

Each shelter is expected to have two LAPD staff, as well as staff to help the homeless and psychiatric services transport the homeless from the various camps in the city, Moore said.

And while agents are well trained in self-protection protocols for dealing with unhealthy and dangerous conditions – including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) – the LAPD is preparing for what Moore called a new era, he said.

This is a new era, not only for the LAPD and the region, but also for peace with the pandemic, he said. It is an invisible threat that is and has many unknowns.

In addition to increasing the number of detention centers for officers and providing sanitation in LAPD areas, Moore said the department allows officers to wear a variety of uniforms to combat the virus.

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slum in downtown Los Angeles. (Photo by Ted Sookie/Corbis on Getty Pictures)

The department also opens the LAPD’s Elysian Academy, a shelter with 24-hour security, showers, laundry and snacks to allow agents, who often work 12 to 15 hours a day, to relax instead of going home and potentially endangering their loved ones.

Instead of going home and arranging the transport of the virus, they can stay at the academy, hide, recharge and go back the next day, he said.

When asked about reports from some officials who stated that they had not been provided with adequate protective equipment when they had to help transport homeless people from the camps, Moore admitted that, although there had been a few cases, he had asked an ordinary official to bring these concerns to his attention.

I think in some cases there were officers who didn’t know or who heard and listened to the rumours. That’s why we’re doing everything we can to make sure the internal message is clear, Mr Moore said.

And that’s that you have personal protective equipment, which consists of goggles, masks, gloves… If you don’t have it, you have to take it to your boss, he added. Not to say, in an organization of 13,000 people, that maybe we don’t have a case where a cop feels where mine is? We ask you to take a step forward, to realize that you have a void to fill, and we will fill it.

Currently 12 LAPD officers have tested positive for VIDOC-19. Everyone’s recovering at home, Mr Moore said.

All parts of the organization, from our service providers to our top managers, have been exposed to this virus, he said. So we’re facing a very, very big, albeit very difficult, risk.

And I think our work is good, but at the same time we have other things to do.