May 4, 2020


PERF’s COVID-19 coronavirus resources, including past editions of the Daily COVID-19 Report, are available at


Police Unions Are Working to Help Protect Officers’ Health

Today’s COVID-19 Report presents information from police union leaders in New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and Chula Vista, CA.

Key Takeaways:

-- Police unions have helped obtain and distribute personal protective equipment to officers in cities where the equipment was in short supply.

-- Unions are working to ensure that deaths of officers from the coronavirus will be treated as line-of-duty deaths, so that the officers’ families will obtain benefits to help ensure their financial security.

-- In some cities, union leaders and management are communicating more frequently during this crisis, which may lead to better working relationship in the future.

-- Some police departments are shifting to one-officer patrol cars, because it is difficult or impossible to maintain social distancing with two officers in a car.


NYPD Detectives Endowment Association President Paul DiGiacomo:

We Have Lost 5 Detectives to COVID-19

It’s the darkest time for detectives in the history of the rank. We’ve lost five detectives. I call this the “invisible bullet,” because you’re here one day and gone the next.

The rank of detective in New York City is  unique. We have detectives working patrol, doing traditional investigations, in our Emergency Service Unit, flying helicopters, and guarding dignitaries. We cover all aspects of policing here in New York City.

The main issue for my detectives is possibly taking the virus home to their families. Quite a few of our detectives are not living at home to protect their families.

Regarding the detectives who died, to me this is no different than being shot in the line of duty. We expect the municipality to treat this as such by giving them a line-of-duty death designation that protects their families financially. The ages of the five detectives who died ranged from 40 to 50, and four of the five have young children. This union’s concern is to make sure that their families and children are secure financially, and we will be there for them today and forever.

I feel that the city and state failed us at the beginning of this by not having the personal protective equipment available for our members to go out and do their jobs. The union stepped in and bought large quantities of masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer, and distributed it to our members. I don’t blame the police department. It’s not their responsibility to do that; it’s the government’s. The city should have had this equipment ready to go, and they did not. Now, weeks into this, they’ve finally figured it out and given out the equipment. The Detectives Endowment Association is still providing our members with equipment.

In the beginning stages, our detectives responding to DOAs [persons who had died of COVID-19 in their homes] did not have the proper equipment. We called the federal government and they sent over 4,000 Tyvek suits and face shields so that our detectives could do their investigations at DOAs, which have quadrupled during the coronavirus.

These investigations take a toll on you, both physically and mentally. You’re entering these locations knowing that it could be a coronavirus situation and you could take it home to your family. Behind every death there is a family. Our detectives were trying to console them and give them some sort of explanation and peace in their lives, as we’ve always done and always will do at any homicide or DOA.

Note: Click here to view a video from the Detectives’ Endowment Association about supporting the families of detectives who died from COVID-19.


Philadelphia Police FOP President John McNesby:

Our City Wasn’t Prepared, But It’s Hard to Prepare for Something So Quick and Deadly

We’ve lost one member, which is one too many, and that has been listed as a line-of-duty death.

We worked at the state level to secure House Bill 1869, which gives our members up to 60 days’ pay if they contract the virus or are in contact with anybody who has it and are forced to quarantine. They won’t be using their own sick or vacation time.

Our contract was up this year. When COVID first kicked off about six weeks ago, I got an extension to our contract with an increase of 2.5% and a bonus of $750 per person.

We spent close to a half-million dollars on supplies for our people: masks, sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, food, etc. Our city absolutely was not prepared, but I don’t know if anybody could prepare for something that is so quick and so deadly. They’re up to speed now. They have supplies and are starting to get them out.

We got with the city to dial back two-officer cars to make them one-officer and better keep our people safe. Officers wanted one-officer cars because it’s hard to socially distance with two people in a Ford Explorer. Two-officer cars aren’t the norm in Philadelphia, but they were putting them together because they had so many cops and so few cars. So we asked them to go back to one-officer cars.

I think the number one change to come out of this will be a universal policy that directs how to handle these situations. There have to be guidelines so that we’re not fumbling the ball in the future. If this does happen again, we must be better prepared, with a stockpile of masks and gloves and somebody to coordinate the response.


Baltimore Police FOP President Mike Mancuso:

I Talk to Our Police Department Leaders Daily, But I Wish We Could Have Been Better Prepared

Part of me agrees that no one could be prepared for this, but part of me thinks that after the riots in 2015 the police department should have been a little more prepared, with a couple weeks’ worth of supplies. Our union jumped in, spent money, and solicited contributions. Last night the union hall was open until 2:00 a.m. to distribute supplies.

We’ve been threatened with layoffs or furloughs or not giving us our raise in July, so morale is pretty bad right now. About three weeks ago all the presidents of city unions were brought into the same room. These proposals were pushed across the table, and I immediately said no.

I have at least one call a day with our deputy commissioners and we discuss issues from my side and from their side. That’s been a positive for us.

The FOP was able to get a hotel to offer free rooms to our people for an extended period of time if they needed it. The department did that as well, but with the department there are additional procedures. So there are some procedures that need to be streamlined going forward to get us ready for the fall or the next pandemic.


Los Angeles Police Protective League Director Mark Cronin:

We’ve Been Looking into Biometric Sensors to Help Protect Officers’ Health

Our biggest impact has been to get the city to consider this a presumptive line-of-duty injury. We’ve done that at the local level, and if I have anything to say about it, it will be picked up at the state level.

PPE has not been an issue here. We already had it, and there hasn’t been a shortage. We had 10,000 masks made with “LAPPL Strong” on the front.

Even before this, I’ve been looking into biometrics, like blood oxygen sensors, blood pressure cuffs, thermometers, and smart scales. You can have these biometric sensors link to apps on your phone. You can know more about the health of your workforce. I know the department would love to get hold of this data, and that’s why we’re doing this through the union. All HIPAA laws apply.

We conducted a test of this with 250 of our cops back when Charlie Beck was chief. We plugged our cops into these biometric sensors and had a dashboard we could watch. We had a counseling component. Officers’ doctors could monitor these metrics to provide better assistance.


Chula Vista Police Officers Association President David Martinez:

We Were Well Prepared with PPE

We have a population of about 280,000 residents and a police force of about 250 cops. We’ve been really lucky so far, because we’ve only had four officers tested and none has been positive.

I think our department did a good job of getting all the necessary PPE at the beginning of this. We already had PPE we normally use, like gloves, hand sanitizer, and sanitation wipes. The department was wiping down every workstation at the beginning of this, and that has continued. The department has provided everyone with disposable masks and N95 masks. You can get new ones for every shift. They’ve also given us extra masks for our family members at home. So PPE hasn’t been an issue for us at all.

Our city’s budget is definitely taking a hit, just like everyone else’s. Luckily our city was doing pretty well financially prior to this. We just started contract negotiations, which couldn’t come at a worse time. We did a salary survey and are 11th out of 12 city agencies in the county. So we were hoping to get our pay bumped up, but COVID is going to throw a wrench into negotiations. I expect that will drag on at least a few months.


The PERF Daily COVID-19 Report is part of the Critical Issues in Policing project, supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.


PERF also is grateful to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for supporting PERF’s COVID-19 work.

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