Just like how hospital front line workers are calling for better protection against the coronavirus with personal protection equipment (PPE), the Nassau County Police Benevolent Association (PBA) is calling on better protection for county police officers.
At a press conference outside of the PBA’s headquarters in Mineola last Tuesday, Nassau PBA president James McDermott spoke about officer protection.
“Nassau County police have been on the front lines of this battle and we’ve been there behind them supporting them,” McDermott said. “We had a bunch of concerns and one of them was the testing. We were in communication with the police commissioner in regards to the testing. The testing was taking too long to get them tested and the results coming back was too long.”
McDermott said that the PBA had written numerous letters to police commissioner Patrick Ryder about the coronavirus testing issues that plagued officers. After numerous correspondence, Ryder managed to get county officers rapid COVID-19 testing kits that only takes 15 minutes to get results, which McDermott said was a good thing.
“We also urged the department through the police commissioner to establish a centralized protocol for coronavirus,” McDermott added. “We were concerned with high risk of infection. We have police officers out there who have diabetes, heart conditions, respiratory problems, 9/11 illnesses and we have female officers, who are pregnant that we have to be concerned with. We believe that the department must frequently clean all at-risk areas such as prisoner holding areas, cells, precinct cells and cells at police headquarters. These places have to be sanitized constantly.”
As part of the centralized protocol, the PBA is requesting that the department get something where officers can dispose their PPE.
“After they’ve been contaminated, we can’t just throw them in the back seat of a police car or throw them out in any garbage pail,” McDermott explained. “It’s not healthy for anyone.”
Ryder said that the department ionizes and sprays its cars and does about 50 to 60 cars a day to help protect officers.
“We have all the protective gear in the car, we ask that the cars be wiped down, we put wipes and sanitizer in the car,” Ryder said at a press conference last week. “We go to great lengths to make sure that our members are protected.”
The PBA has also asked for extra police uniforms and decontamination areas where officers can change so they don’t infect other officers, their families or the public.
“These issues should be addressed now and be put into a centralized procedure,” McDermott said. “We’ve been at the forefront of protecting our members and county residents. We called for the closure of the academy as one of our academy staff members in the early stages was infected with coronavirus, became life-threateningly ill and was teaching police academy cadets at that point. We called for a closure of the pistol range to avoid further infection or exposure. The police commissioner adopted it after our insistence.”
Going forward, the PBA looks for the police department to proactively look to eliminate all risk to county officers.
“It’s important that our officers don’t get contaminated,” McDermott explained. “We’re still out there. Everyone else is still in their homes on self-quarantine. Our officers respond to calls, come to people who call 911 and handle aided cases—many of them are coronavirus. I think 1,300 of our members have been exposed to people who have coronavirus. At this point, I believe we have 65 police officers that have been infected and tested positive. We don’t want to be the conduit of being sick and bringing it to you. It’s very important that our members are tested and tested satisfactory to keep everyone safe.”
The PBA is also looking for PPE donations to help further protect officers. If you would like to donate, the PBA’s headquarters are located at 89 E. Jericho Tpke. in Mineola or you can also call 516-294-6230.