Coronavirus taking a toll on SoCal law enforcement

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Local police and sheriff's deputies are making some changes to how they patrol the streets and interact with the public during the coronavirus pandemic.

Officers in some departments, including Los Angeles and Pasadena, are wearing masks or face coverings to try to limit their exposure to the virus.

Already, dozens of officers across the region have been diagnosed positive for the virus.

Two Riverside County sheriff's deputies have died from COVID-19.

The pandemic is also changing how calls for help are screened and how officers respond.

"It's very fearful. We don't know what's coming next but the mindset of police officers is we have to adjust, adapt and get ready for the unknown," said Pasadena Police Chief John Perez. "I think officers are doing that, as well as the community."

At least 43 LAPD officers have now tested positive for the coronavirus. Two remain hospitalized.

On Friday, there was a heartbreaking scene in the Inland Empire as COVID-19 claimed the life of Deputy David Werksman, the Riverside County Sheriff's Department's second death.

Werksman served the department for 22 years. Riverside Sheriff Chad Bianco said the deputy lost his mother several weeks ago and it is possible that he contracted the virus during the funeral.

Deputy Terrell Young was a 15-year veteran of the department who died Thursday. He is survived by his wife and four children.

RELATED: Coronavirus: Riverside County sheriff's Deputy Terrell Young dies from COVID-19

Bianco said Young and Werksman did not work together and did not have contact with each other before their deaths.

As the department copes with the two devastating losses, adding to the challenge is the fact that no public funerals are allowed to be held during the pandemic. In the past, when officers have died, hundreds of fellow law-enforcement members gather to honor them and mourn together.

"For law enforcement, coming together at a police funeral is support for one another," Perez said. "You can look up and see families and friends that you've known over the years. Not having a funeral, not being together is a frustrating part for all of us in law enforcement."
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