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SMPD Remains Short-Staffed After COVID Reports

First published in the Nov. 18 print issue of the San Marino Tribune.

At least three San Marino police officers who reported having COVID symptoms last week are still off-duty and remain in quarantine, according to Sgt. Naved Qureshi, a 20-year law enforcement veteran who is president of the San Marino Police Officers Association, the union representing its 23 rank-and-file members.
The SMPOA has said that 12 of its 23 officers are fully vaccinated for COVID. The police chief and two commanding officers have also been vaccinated.

Additionally, the number of off-duty officers recently shrunk when it was announced that Corporal Brian Wong — a graduate of San Marino High School and popular public servant — had left the SMPD.
Police Chief John Incontro said the SMPD is working around the staffing gap by having officers working overtime. Incontro reported that Wong has taken a position at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Bureau of Investigation.
“We are going to miss him,” Incontro said.
The positive cases and quarantine impacts are limited to sworn members of the police department. No civilian employees have tested positive, according to City Manager Marcella Marlowe.
The outbreak arrives at a time when members of the SMPOA are facing an impasse in contract negotiations over their refusal to agree to a city employee vaccination policy announced in early September, which could take effect once the City Council takes action on the matter, likely in February or March.
The SMPOA believes that a frequent testing program should serve as an alternative to vaccinations, but the city has remained in staunch opposition. The city has maintained that a frequent testing program presents a resource issue and that rapid tests have a high likelihood of producing false negative test results.
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health defines an outbreak as a workplace having three or more cases of COVID reported among employees within a 14-day period. Employers are required to report the incident to LACDPH.
The SMPD currently employs 26 sworn officers, including the chief and two commanders.

Now in his 25th year at The Tribune, Mitch Lehman is Editor and Sports Editor in addition to being the public address announcer for ten sports programs at San Marino High School. Mitch is one of only a handful in the community to receive the ‘Very Special Person Award’ from the San Marino PTA at the annual Founder’s Day ceremony, was acknowledged as a 'Terrific Titan' by the San Marino High School PTSA, was named an Honorary Paul Harris Fellow by the Rotary Club of San Marino and received a National Honorary Merit Badge in Journalism from the Boy Scouts of America. He has received two independent Pulitzer Prize nominations and in the past three years, Mitch has won seven awards and is a thirteen-time finalist in the California News Publishers Association's Better Newspapers Contest. In 2015, the press box at Titan Stadium was re-named 'Lehman's Loft' in his honor. You can reach Mitch at mitchlehman@sanmarinotribune.com.

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