Police Commissioner Dermot Shea Updates Members of the Department on Major Steps Taken to Combat COVID-19

March 20, 2020

To the Members of the New York City Police Department:

New York City has taken major steps to slow the spread of COVID-19, but we know concerns about the pandemic - and about logistics related to your work as members of the NYPD - continue to grow. I want to alleviate some of those worries by letting you know what to expect as we move forward together.

First: We are eliminating the need for our uniformed and civilian members to call the Sick Desk solely to obtain an exposure number. Every employee now falls under a universal exposure number because we know that you - in the course of conducting front-line work essential to the safety of millions of New Yorkers - are potentially exposed to this virus. That fact is not debatable.

Second: Any officer who comes into contact with an infected person (citizens, family, friends, or colleagues) should immediately take safety precautions, such as washing their hands. Then, they should call the sick desk. A panel of departmental experts will review every officer's contact with an infected person on an individualized, case-by-case basis, to determine the best steps for the officer. If officers are not symptomatic they can continue to work unless the panel determines that other steps are more appropriate based on work experiences. Trends and best practices of the pandemic continue to evolve. When members do report sick, the Medical Division will look at each positive COVID-19 case to determine the best course of action for the individual member. For uniformed or civilian members who have not been tested but who are experiencing a fever, a cough, or shortness of breath - you will be instructed stay home in line with the best practices, including whether and when testing is necessary. In the case of fever, members will additionally be instructed to remain home until receiving direction from the Medical Division on when to return to work following your temperature's return to normal.

Third: We are paying special attention to the civilian payroll process, and ensuring that enough staff is on hand to properly maintain the system without any interruption.

Fourth: We have been working to get you gloves, masks and antiseptic equipment and supplies as quickly as possible - the tools you need to do your jobs safely and effectively. Our crews are continually cleaning our work spaces top-to-bottom. It's important to know that the city's current reality is one in which even health-care workers don't have enough necessary equipment, including masks. And as you've seen reported in the news, COVID-19 tests are also in short supply.

Let me be clear: We absolutely must use all of the tools at our disposal - but we have to do it smartly and sparingly. And we must operate as though there is no guarantee of re-supply. Case in point: Soap and warm water are just as effective at minimizing risk as hand sanitizer, so we should wash hands whenever possible to conserve antiseptic. We are very much in this predicament together - as a police department, as a city, and as a nation. Our NYPD response remains fluid, and will continue to be determined in a constant process of assessment and reassessment. I will reiterate that now, more than ever, New York City needs you. People are looking to you for reassurance, guidance, and a sense that the city is under control. As always, I remain in awe of your resilience and ability to adapt to these rapidly-evolving conditions. And I thank you for the hard work and dedication you exhibit each day and night. Stay safe.


Dermot Shea
Police Commissioner