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Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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As New York City struggles with being the epicenter of the outbreak of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 pandemic, so is its police department, with more than 700 of its officers having contracted the virus, according to former police commissioner Bill Bratton.
More than 736 New York City police officers have contracted the virus and almost 5,000 have been out sick, said Bratton, who served as New York City police commissioner from 1994 to 1996, and again from 2014 to 2016.
“The police commissioner estimates tomorrow morning when they do the morning report that number of sick officers may be as high as 500 with upwards of 15 percent of the uniform force out sick. Those are phenomenal numbers,” he said in an on-air TV interview.
“Well, speaking specifically for the NYPD, which is privileged to be commissioner twice of that department and other large agencies like the Los Angeles police chief, they’ve got extraordinary staff, dedicated personnel. So the planning capabilities are significant,” Bratton added. “They are looking at multiple ways of dealing with the loss of these officers in 10- to 12-hour shifts, bringing the detective force–7,000 officers–into uniform. There is a variety of staffing ways that this can be dealt with.
“The problem, however, outside of New York in large cities, 18,000 police departments in this country. The majority have 25 offices or less. So if you start losing 10, 15, 20, 25 percent of those forces, that starts getting towards like a catastrophe stage. One of the ways we can deal with this is the repetition of what all these governors have been asking for, a appropriate equipment to protect the first line, defenders, nurses, police and our firefighters. To that degree. The prioritization of getting adequate equipment will help.
“One good news statistic cited earlier on MSNBC was that about 80 percent of those afflicted with the virus that it is not life-threatening that to the extent that they have to go on the ventilators that they will recover and you will be starting to see in some instances officers coming back to work or being asked to come back to work,” Bratton said. “This is where the testing is to make sure if they are able to come back after having them. That they are, in fact, well enough to come back.”
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