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LAPD Falsely Blames Temporary Closing of Wilshire Station On ‘Defunding’ In Face Of COVID Surge and 12% Proposed Budget Increase

5:19 PM PST on January 12, 2022

When LAPD critic William Gude and another cop-watcher showed up at LAPD Wilshire Community Police Station earlier this week, the lights in the lobby were off, and the door was locked. A paper sign attached to the front entrance claimed that the station was closed due to ‘defunding.’

When [the other cop-watcher] pointed it out, we both started laughing,” Gude told us today. “We couldn't believe the shamelessness of the LAPD. I was also thinking this is yet another unforced error on the LAPD's part, and I'm going to make them pay for blaming us.

LAPD Wilshire Station, 11:00 PM

The station is closed.They claim it’s because of *defunding*. 🙄

— Film The Police LA (@FilmThePoliceLA) January 12, 2022

Gude called bullshit and posted the sign on his Twitter feed last night. Since then, the video has garnered more than 80,000 views. On social media, users have drawn attention to the misspelling of “incovience” (sic) as well as the fact that last year the Los Angeles City Council voted to increase the LAPD’s already enormous budget by three percent, despite calls from activist to take money away from police.

Earlier today, Gude reached out to Los Angeles Chief of Police Michel Moore and demanded that the notice at Wilshire station be taken down. “I don’t appreciate the lies to my community, Michel. I also don’t appreciate you posting messages that are somewhat political in nature. Please remove this sign immediately.” Additionally, Gude filed a formal complaint against the station’s captain for allegedly posting the misleading sign.

By lunchtime, Chief Moore responded, saying, “clearly posting a sign like this is inappropriate.” Moore said he directed the door to be inspected and the CCTV footage reviewed.

“I’ve asked for this to be expedited. Out of respect to our people I recognize someone other than a member of this Department may have posted this in an effort to embarrass us. However, if we identify that a member of this organization is responsible, disciplinary action will be taken.”

Hours later, Norma Eisenman, a spokesperson for the department, confirmed with L.A. TACO in a statement that there was an investigation into the matter. “It was determined that an officer placed the sign and a complaint has been initiated."

As Gude and others pointed out on Twitter, the real reason why Wilshire Station was closed likely has to do with the unprecedented COVID outbreak impacting the LAPD. As of Tuesday, more than 800 LAPD employees—the majority of them sworn personnel—are out sick with COVID, and that’s roughly six percent of the entire workforce.

“COVID had a tremendous impact on the department as far as new cases,” Chief Moore said on Tuesday during the first Police Commission meeting of the new year. More than 560 employees tested positive for COVID last week. By comparison, only a month ago, new COVID cases were in the 20s. Despite new guidelines from the CDC that have reduced the quarantine period, the average recovery period for LAPD employees is roughly three weeks, according to the chief of police.Moore said on Tuesday that the department is relying on overtime and temporarily shutting down certain operations, such as jails and the police academy, to ensure that there are sufficient resources. Additionally, the department is redirecting staff that typically handles administrative tasks to ensure patrol shifts are being filled. 

Reached for comment via email, Chief Moore told L.A. TACO: “Upon receiving correspondence from Mr. Gude including a referenced YouTube video depicting what appears to be an improper paper sign affixed to the front door of Wilshire Station, I directed an immediate complaint investigation that includes ensuring any such signage is not posted on the door as well as efforts to determine if what is depicted is accurate.  If a Department employee posted such a message it constitutes misconduct and they will face disciplinary action.”

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