Hundreds of New York Police Department (NYPD) Court Section officers have been forced to continue wearing masks on the job due to a judge’s order made last year for a COVID-19 lawsuit, despite most other mask mandates being lifted, according to the New York Daily News.
A November 2021 federal lawsuit representing almost 40 people detained at New York City state courthouses during the COVID-19 pandemic’s last stage accused the city of failing to comply with COVID-19 mitigation guidance, and the detainees’ attorney Richard Cardinale says they lacked criminal records but “were jammed into unsanitary cells” without masks or screenings, the outlet reported. New York City agreed to a consent order in January 2022 over the lawsuit, requiring all central booking facility staff at the courthouses, including NYPD Court Section officers, to wear masks when interacting with others on-site.
Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch told the Daily News the order is “out of touch with the current reality.”
“This kind of nonsense is yet another reason cops are quitting in droves,” he said. More than 1,200 officers in their first five years of service resigned from the NYPD in 2022, according to New York City Police Pension Fund data referenced by The New York Times.
Court Section officers personally interact with criminal defendants, but one such NYPD officer complained that corrections officers, probation officers and attorneys are not under mask mandates despite all interacting with prisoners face-to-face, the Daily News reported.
“Everyone has access to the defendants, but we’re the ones being punished after the mayor and the governor said we don’t have to wear it anymore,” the officer told the outlet.
Public transit workers’ mask mandate ended in September 2022, while the requirement was lifted for New York City hospitals in February 2023, the outlet reported.
“There are so many issues in these facilities and Central Booking has such a filthy atmosphere that everything in the consent order should continue,” Cardinale told the Daily News.
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