Referring to the New York Police Department (NYPD), Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York—the city’s largest police union—described the current situation as “untenable.”
“The NYPD needs to get cops out of the social distancing enforcement business altogether,” Lynch said in a statement.
.@NYCPBA calls for end of @NYPDnews policing of social distancing: “As the weather heats up & the pandemic continues to unravel our social fabric, police officers should be allowed to focus on our core public safety mission. If we don’t, the city will fall apart before our eyes.” pic.twitter.com/YPYZUh4TG2
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) May 4, 2020
He accused the New York City leadership of providing the NYPD “nothing but vague guidelines and mixed messages, leaving the cops on the street corners to fend for themselves.”
“Nobody has a right to interfere with a police action,” Lynch continued. “But now that the inevitable backlash has arrived, they are once again throwing us under the bus.”
He said that the city’s subways are “in chaos,” while New York City’s “hero nurses” are being robbed on their way to hospitals.
Around 1,000 police officers were dispatched by the city on Saturday to ensure social distancing measures are followed.
“As the weather heats up and the pandemic continues to unravel our social fabric, police officers should be allowed to focus on our core public safety mission,” Lynch added. “If we don’t, the city will fall apart before our eyes.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday pitched a four-phase plan to reopening the state saying that reopening New York will be harder than locking it down. He warned of a COVID-19 rebound if restrictions are lifted too fast or outside of a smart process.
In a tweet on Monday, Cuomo said: “Reopening our state is far more complicated than shutting down was. If you open too quickly you can immediately have a backlash.”
Citing the experience of some other countries that lifted restrictions only to see a resurgence, he said, “We must be smart.”
Phase one of Cuomo’s plan for reopening would open construction, manufacturing, parts of the supply chain that deal in wholesale, and select retail with curbside pickup.
“They are the most essential, with the lowest risk,” he said.
The second phase would reactivate professional services, including finance and insurance, retail, administrative support, and real estate.
Phase three would let food services and accommodations—restaurants and hotels—come back on line.
And arts and entertainment would reboot in phase four, as would recreation and education.
Regions would be graded on a resurgence risk scale, with more loosely populated parts of the state designated lower-risk, while crowded places like New York City rated “higher-risk.”
“Reopening is more difficult than the close-down. The close-down was relatively simple,” he said at a briefing on Monday.
New York’s state’s stay-at-home order, in place since mid-March, is due to expire on May 15. Cuomo said previously that some regions outside the New York City area with a relatively low number of cases could start lifting restrictions after that date.
He did not specify which regions would open first, but at his briefing showed a slide with the more rural northern and central parts of the state labeled as “lower-risk regions,” in contrast to the “higher-risk regions,” which include densely populated New York City.
Tom Ozimek contributed to this report.