SOUTHERN BROOKLYN – Doctors and nurses working in hospitals across the city are asking for more gloves, masks, and other supplies to protect themselves. Police officers are in the same boat.
One officer from a precinct in Southern Brooklyn told Bklyner that cops, who qualify as essential workers, are given one pair of gloves and one mask that is only good for one use, but they are supposed to use it during their entire shift. He said there are supposed to be more gloves/masks in the precinct, but there aren’t, and that his fellow officers are over the edge worrying about catching the coronavirus and the department is not doing much to help.
Every day, the number of coronavirus cases in the city increases. As of 10 a.m today, there are 5,151 positive coronavirus cases in NYC, with 29 fatalities. In Brooklyn, the number has gone up to 1,518.
“The department is essentially telling us the opposite of what they’re telling the public,” the cop told us. “What I mean is, because it’s so contagious, they’re telling everyone to rather be safe than sorry. With cops and health care workers, we have to be within six feet of someone who tested positive for more than 15 minutes and we have to start feeling symptoms in order to get off. The problem with that is we could be contagious weeks before that.”
An average workday for cops is about eight hours and 30 minutes. During that shift, cops are exposed to many people; people who could very well have the coronavirus. Though there are fewer people outside now amid the coronavirus, the risk of catching it is still very high for cops. Just two days, ago, one police officer tested positive for the coronavirus in the 1st Precinct and 31 officers were out sick, NY1 reported.
“We’re still doing car stops, making arrests. The supervisors are still asking for activity. We’re definitely interacting with fewer people now than before,” he said. “The main thing is transporting prisoners to central booking. If someone gets sick, there’s no way to track who that person came in contact with.”
Aside from that, currently in his precinct, there are four cops that are out with flu-like symptoms. “We had a prisoner whose attorney’s husband tested positive. This was enough to close the court for a day to get cleaned. But for us, it was just ‘Get back to work.'”
Because of all the exposure, this officer wanted to be safe and went to get tested. First responders have their own testing site located in Queens. According to the cop, he was turned down for testing because they only had enough tests to test those with severe symptoms.
According to this officer, cops are more afraid of spreading the virus to their family members at home. That is something that worries them dearly.
“I’m a young healthy guy. If I get it, I can recover. If my parents get it, they might not. If a cop gives it to their baby, they might not survive. This is what the department doesn’t understand.”
But despite all of that, this cop, and the thousands of other cops in the city still decide to go to work every single day.
“Especially at a time like this, people need to feel safe. We can’t let people feel like there’s no police. Especially with so many businesses being closed,” he said. “I’ve heard people concerned about looters. I agree, we need the police out and about, but I definitely think we could limit our exposure, limit our car stops, limit our arrests so there are fewer people brought into the precinct and central booking. It’s a chain reaction.”
Bkyner reached out to the NYPD with questions, but they responded with, “The NYPD has issued common-sense safety precautions for officers when they come into contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms. These safety precautions include the use of protective gear such as gloves and masks.”
But what happens when there aren’t enough masks or gloves?
“If we’re exposed,” the officer told us, “we’re going to expose the public because we’re the only ones out.”