As NYPD faces new challenges, three more members die of COVID-19

traffic safety
Police officer instructs people in East River Park to wear a mask and gives them out for free to those who don’t have one on May 7. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

Even as the number of  NYPD members reporting sick continues to drop, the department suffered yet three more deaths – a total of 41 members have died from coronavirus complications.

Commissioner Dermot Shea said this morning that the sick rates were now down 4.6 percent, down from a high of almost 20 percent of the department from the middle of April. That’s 28 days straight of reductions of the number of members of the department sick.

Police officials say School Safety Agent George Santiago, assigned to our School Safety Division, served for nearly 19 years; Traffic Enforcement Agent Pat Nicholls, assigned to the Traffic Special Operations Section, had more than 22 years on the job; and Supervisor of School Security Kevin Bostic, assigned to Patrol Borough Queens South School Safety, had 28 years on the job.

“There are a lot of positives, but in the midst of this, we’ve lost three members in a very short time,” Shea sighed. “Three more members in a very tough week.”

Shea said they are ramping up anti-body testing for his officers and hopes to get more officers tested in the coming days.

As officers are coming back to work from sick leave, the department is taking on new responsibilities on an increasing basis; including enforcing and advising the public on social distancing, giving out masks to the public; removing the homeless from the trains and getting them help; protecting closed businesses from increasing commercial burglaries; and containing and shutting off any gatherings that might bring people together to spread the contagion.

Police fanned out to clear Coney Island subway station of people for cleaning. (Photo by Todd Maisel)
The MTA shut all trains at the end of lines where scores of homeless were forced from the trains to be cleaned. (Photo by Todd Maisel)

This week, transit officers combined to help close down train stations at 1 a.m. for sanitizing. To do that, they needed to stop people from entering the stations and removing any passengers sleeping on the trains, mostly the homeless who have made the warm trains their bedroom.

Thousands of cops descending on the stations early Wednesday morning and according to Mayor Bill de Blasio this morning, 215 people received assistance from homeless outreach with the help of police.

On social distancing, Shea said they are doing enforcement with a “light touch,” and giving out masks to the public.

“Social distancing laws weren’t even on the books four months,” Shea said, adding, “we are down 50 percent on arrests, 50 percent on criminal court summonses and 80 percent on general summonses.”

“We have hundreds of thousands of contacts with people in a city of 8.5 million and we’ve only given out a handful of summonses and that is as it should be – we don’t want the NYPD to be morality police,” Shea said.

He added that he has heard that there is more enforcement in minority communities, saying that he didn’t want their work community relations to “take steps backward.”

He complimented Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who is a retired police captain, for accompanying his officers in parks to advise people on social distancing gathering and giving out masks.

To help with the new responsibilities, Shea said he was optimistic because so many officers were returning to work after contracting Covid-19 or being released from quarantine.

As of May 6, 1,666 uniformed members of the NYPD were out sick. To date, 5,300  members of the NYPD have tested positive for coronavirus. As of today, Wednesday, May 6th, 4,779 members of the NYPD have returned to work full duty after recovering from a positive test for the coronavirus and 373 uniformed members plus 108 civilian members are still out sick.

The MTA shut all trains at the end of lines where scores of homeless were forced from the trains to be cleaned. (Photo by Todd Maisel)