LAPD Investigating 'Blue Flu' Claims as Officers Miss Work Over July 4

The Los Angeles Police Department is investigating if a large number of their officers took part in a coordinated illegal strike action over Independence Day weekend.

The alleged protest occurred after a letter circulated calling for officers to simultaneously call in sick, a strike action dubbed "blue flu," in response to the LAPD having its budget slashed by $150m in the wake of calls for reform.

"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," the letter, obtained by The Los Angeles Times, said. "We have to send the city a clear message that we are not expendable and we are not going to take this crap anymore."

According to The Times, as many as 300 officers had called in sick over what would be a busier than normal weekend for the force. The department admitted that there was a "higher than normal absentee rate" over the weekend.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League union denied that it pushed for officers to take part in the "blue flu" action and had even actively discouraged it.

"We have heard some unsubstantiated rumors of a potential 'Blue Flu' where officers would coordinate to call in sick for the same day. We urge you to not take this action," the LAPPL wrote to their members. "It is wrong, it is illegal, and it is contrary to the oath we all took as police officers to protect our community."

LAPD Chief Michel Moore told The Times there could be a number of reasons why so many officers called in sick, noting the rise in the COVID-19 cases in L.A.

"Rather than jumping to conclusions and indicting and impugning the integrity of our rank and file, I'm asking that we explore this," Moore said. "We want to find the facts out before we start making sweeping judgments."

In a statement to Fox 11, the LAPD said: "While the LAPD experienced a higher than normal absentee rate over the holiday weekend, we were able to shift our resources where they were needed, to meet our minimum patrol staffing.

"Public safety is our priority, and the men and women of this Department are dedicated to that mission, as the vast majority of police officers reported to work as scheduled over the holiday.

"The Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Police Protective League unequivocally condemns any attempt to engage in a 'Blue Flu.' It is wrong, it is illegal, and it is contrary to the oath we all took as police officers to protect our community."

The LAPD have been contacted for further comment.

Last month, the Atlanta Police Department had to play down suggestions that its officers took part in a blue flu strike action following reports they were protesting a decision to charge two policemen in connection to the shooting of Rayshard Brooks.

There were reports that some officers had stopped answering calls mid-shift in some areas of the city, with officers and deputies from other nearby jurisdictions seen patrolling areas of the city instead of the Atlanta Police Department.

"Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate," APD tweeted. "The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations and remain able to respond to incidents."

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Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters in Los Angeles, California on September 10, 2017. Raymond Boyd/Getty