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.
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.
“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 who have diabetes, heart conditions, respiratory problems, 9/11 illnesses and we have female officers who are pregnant. 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.”
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 said.
Ryder said that the department ionizes and sprays its cars and does about 50 to 60 cars a day to 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 others.
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. “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. At this point, I believe we have 65 police officers that have been infected and tested positive.”
The PBA is looking for PPE donations to help further protect officers. If you’d like to donate, the PBA’s headquarters are located at 89 E. Jericho Tpke. in Mineola or you can call 516-294-6230.