Ill-Equipped NYPD Cops Ordered To Enforce Mayor's Coronavirus Shutdown
New York, NY – New York Police Department (NYPD) has told officers to shut down businesses and issue summonses to those who fail to comply with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s entertainment ban, and officers aren’t happy about it.
The mayor announced Sunday that bars and restaurants would only be allowed to serve food on a to-go or delivery basis as a measure toward curbing the spread of the highly contagious novel coronavirus, the New York Post reported.
In addition to closing the dining rooms at eating establishments, de Blasio also ordered closed all nightclubs, movie theaters, gyms, concert venues, and playhouses that remained open after the initial Broadway shutdown.
“This virus can spread rapidly through the close interactions New Yorkers have in restaurants, bars and places where we sit close together,” the mayor said in a statement. “We have to break that cycle.”
On Monday, NYPD officials sent out a memo to all officers that explained the steps they should take if they had to enforce de Blasio’s shutdown order, the New York Daily News reported.
The memo said NYPD officers are authorized to enforce the mayor’s order by ordering establishments who break the rules to empty out their patrons and to shut down, or in the case of restaurants, to stop serving guests in-house.
According to the memo, business owners or managers who refuse to follow the mayor’s edict may be arrested and given a desk appearance ticket for obstructing government administration, the New York Daily News reported.
The memo said that any patrons who refused to cooperate could be charged with disorderly conduct or something more serious if they interfered with officers’ doing their jobs.
NYPD sources told Blue Lives Matter that despite the memo, the rank-and-file officers weren’t going out of their way to enforce de Blasio’s shutdown.
The instructions to empty and shut down businesses went “in one ear and out the other” for most officers, according to one source.
“No officer in his right mind is going to go into a restaurant and shut it down without being specifically told to do so by a supervisor who is there on the scene,” he told Blue Lives Matter.
“The first time it goes south, what’s [de Blasio] gonna do?” the NYPD source asked. “Will the same support be given to these officers as was given to the officers who were asked to enforce tobacco sale laws?”
The source was referencing the accidental death of Eric Garner during his arrest for illegal cigarette sales that led to a five-year-long investigation and the termination of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, despite the fact that federal prosecutors had decided not to charge the officer.
Officers felt like the city and NYPD officials who ordered them to enforce the laws Garner was breaking turned their backs on them when that arrest ended tragically.
The source also told Blue Lives Matter that it was crazy to expect officers to expose themselves to the virus by walking into large groups who voluntarily disregarded the mayor’s shutdown order.
“Everyone was given one mask and a small bottle of hand sanitizer,” the officer said. “After that, nobody knows what the next step is. The department hasn’t given us the resources necessary to safely disperse large groups of people without being exposed ourselves.”