June 12, 2021

Sergeant dies of COVID-19 as virus rages through LAPD

A 53-year-old Los Angeles police sergeant died Tuesday from complications related to COVID-19 — the second such death in a week for a department that, like the city around it, is being ravaged by the coronavirus.

In the last three weeks alone, nearly 1,000 of the Los Angeles Police Department’s 13,000 employees have tested positive, according to department leaders.

Sgt. Amelia “Terry” Martinez, a mother of three who was described by the department as “a bright shining star” in the Hollenbeck Division, is the fifth LAPD employee overall to die as a result of contracting COVID-19. She had been with the department for 27 years.

“Her passing is a loss for not only her brothers and sisters here in the Department, but for the people of Los Angeles who she dedicated her life to protecting and serving,” the department said in a statement.

The week prior, on Jan. 7, Raymond L. Guerrero, a police service representative, died. He was a father of two, and worked in the communications division, serving for 24 years.

The department said Guerrero “dedicated his career to ensuring that every call for service made by the community members we serve was answered.”

The deaths come as COVID-19 cases have surged across the Los Angeles region and in the Police Department, which is gearing up to vaccinate officers soon.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore said that as of Tuesday, 2,229 LAPD personnel had tested positive for the virus — an increase of 964 from just three weeks prior.

Moore said six were in the hospital, and nearly 900 were recuperating at home, with two-thirds of the infections among sworn officers.

“This is absolutely impacting us as far as our workforce,” Moore said.

He said he is eager for the vaccines to roll out, but noted there is some hesitancy among officers to receive the shots. A recent unscientific survey of the department found that only 60% of respondents said they were ready to get a vaccine.

Moore said the department is developing an educational campaign to inform officers and other personnel about the benefits and safety of the vaccine.