NYPD pushes tougher masking policy for cops

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

After lagging behind the rest of the state in terms of new COVID cases during the winter season, New York City is finally catching up. While still nowhere near the worst that we saw last winter for obvious reasons, infection rates in the Big Apple have crept back up above 7% for the first time in many months. This has prompted the city’s Police Chief to reinstate a more severe face mask mandate for the force. After having relaxed the rules for quite a while, this new order would force all cops to wear a mask almost all of the time, regardless of their vaccination status. Many of the cops on the beat are not thrilled with the news, to say the least. And there are already sources telling the press that they don’t expect a wide level of compliance with these orders. (NY Post)

The NYPD is rolling out a stricter masking policy amid a surge in COVID-19 cases in the city – now requiring all cops, regardless of their vaccination status, to wear face coverings while on duty, The Post has learned.

The order was sent out in a department-wide email Sunday night spelling out the new measures for masks that had been previously rolled back to focus on the unvaccinated cops on the job.

“All members of the service, regardless of vaccination status, who are able to medically tolerate a face covering, are required to wear a face covering that covers their mouth and nose at all times while they are in a shared indoor workspace, except when eating or drinking,” the bulletin read.

The memo states that masks will be required for all officers, “when dealing with the public, while in schools, on public transit and multiple other locations.” That’s pretty much the entire time that the cops are on the clock. One senior officer told the Post that “One Police Plaza isn’t going to follow this.” (That’s a reference to the NYPD headquarters.)

Keep in mind that these orders aren’t coming from the police unions or senior leadership at HQ. The Police Chief is a political appointee and an ally of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been busy issuing one mandate after another for the entire year. He’s clearly in a position to issue orders, but enforcement is another question. If you create a rule saying the police have to follow some particular instruction and the police themselves decide not to do it, who is going to tell them that they’re out of compliance or penalize them?

It should have been obvious that these conflicting, bait-and-switch COVID policies weren’t going to sit well with the cops. They were badgered all year long about getting vaccinated, having their jobs threatened if they failed to comply. Those who remained unvaccinated were, at one point, informed that unvaccinated officers would be made to wear masks, while vaccinated officers would not. In response, there were no doubt quite a few of them that made the decision to finally go get the vaccine. But now the boss is saying that they have to go back to masking up anyway?

Perhaps there will be some policy changes on the way next month when the new mayor is sworn in, though that’s not a sure bet. Eric Adams already named Keechant Sewell as the next Police Commissioner. She’s not as experienced as some of the other candidates on the shortlist, but she’s been vocal about insisting that she wants to get illegal guns and violent criminals off the streets and keep them off. This flies in the face of the more liberal policies endorsed by the Mayor and the City Council. But I’ve yet to hear her chime in on the various COVID mandates and Adams hasn’t said very much about them either.

The bottom line is that there’s only so far you can push the police – or anyone for that matter – when it comes to all of these personal restrictions. People are worn out with all of this pandemic theater and I get the sense that you’re going to be seeing a lot less compliance and a lot more pushback in 2022.