NEW YORK, NY – Last week, Law Enforcement Today reported about the New York City’s Health Commissioner’s dismissal of a request by the NYPD for protective masks by stating that she “didn’t give two rats’ asses” about the cops, sparking a firestorm of criticism.
Despite that, Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to dismiss her. On Monday, Dr. Oxiris Barbot issued an apology to the police department, as reported by the New York Post.
“The members of the NYPD fight valiantly every day to keep New Yorkers safe,” she said in a statement released by a spokesperson for the city’s health department.
“In mid-March, I was asked to provide the NYPD with a half million N-95 masks, while masks and other PPE were in terribly short supply. I wished we had sufficient numbers to meet their full request and were ultimately able to partially fulfill what was sought.
“This regrettably led to an argument in which words were exchanged between a police official and myself. I apologized to that police official then and today, I apologize to the NYPD for leaving any impression whatsoever that I don’t have utmost respect for our police department, which plays a critical role on the frontlines each and every day to keep our city safe,” Barbot said in the statement.
Earlier this month, the New York Post had reported on the March 18 phone call between her and NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan, in which Barbot made the regrettable statement.
In that call, Monahan had asked for an additional 500,000 masks however she said she could only provide one-tenth of that, 50,000.
That led to Barbot’s statement, “I don’t give two rats’ asses about your cops. I need them for others,” she said.
While her apology evidently satisfied de Blasio, police union officials were not buying it as being sincere.
“I question the sincerity of it,” said Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association.
“At the end of the day, we still had nearly 7,000 members sick, 41 members died, and we still didn’t have equipment,” Mullins said.
The president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, Paul DiGiacomo said, “Dr. Barbot’s apology comes only because her disgusting comments were brought to light for all New Yorkers to hear.
“Her blatant disregard for the safety of our men and women in blue is shameful. These are life and death decisions being made on behalf of our cops. For a medical doctor and person in Dr. Barbot’s leadership position to show such disrespect for those who keep her safe is an absolute disgrace.”
According to de Blasio, the first he heard about Barbot’s comments was when he read it in the Post’s article. De Blasio eventually intervened and the NYPD was able to obtain the protective equipment prior to Barbot’s disgusting comments became public.
“If what is being reported is accurate, the commissioner needs to apologize to the men and women of the NYPD, unquestionably,” de Blasio said during his daily briefing last week.
Speaking to the apology, a spokeswoman for de Blasio Freddi Goldstein said. “Dr. Barbot’s apology is appreciated. As the mayor said, he believed it was important to address the situation publicly.”
The Post noted that de Blasio and Barbot have had an icy relationship throughout the pandemic response, having disagreed on numerous issues, including the closing of schools to testing of city residents.
For the original story Law Enforcement Today did on this:
NEW YORK CITY, N.Y.- While most of the country is honoring first responders and “essential” workers, one New York City official made her true feelings known as to what she thinks of those who wear the blue uniform of the New York City Police Department.
The New York Post is reporting that when the NYPD made an urgent request for 500,000 surgical masks for their officers, the Commissioner of the Department of Health told a high-ranking police official, “I don’t give two rats’ asses about your cops.”
According to the Post, Dr. Oxiris Barbot, New York City’s health commissioner, made that remark during a phone conversation with the NYPD Chief of Department, according to sources familiar with the matter told the paper on Wednesday.
Chief Terence Monahan asked Barbot for 500,000 masks, however, was told by Barbot that she could only provide one-tenth of that, 50,000 masks, the sources said.
“I don’t give two rats’ asses about your cops,” Barbot told Monahan according to the same sources, the Post said.
“I need them for others.”
Monahan made the request as the number of NYPD officers who were calling out with COVID-19 symptoms was going up, however was before the department suffered its first COVID-related deaths, the sources said.
The police department has recorded nearly 5,490 cases of COVID-19 among its 55,000 officers and civilian personnel, or roughly ten percent of the NYPD staff has contracted the coronavirus.
Forty-one of those personnel have died from the virus.
The president of the Police Benevolent Association, Patrick Lynch blasted Barbot’s comments, and called for her to be fired over the remarks, which he classified as “despicable and unforgivable.”
“Dr. Barbot should be forced to look in the eye of every police family who lost a hero to this virus. Look them in the eye and tell them they aren’t worth a rat’s ass,” Lynch said.
Despicable and unforgivable. Dr. Barbot should be forced to look in the eye of every police family who lost a hero to this virus. Look them in the eye and tell them they aren’t worth a rat’s ass.https://t.co/i7vYHTjfAf
— NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) May 14, 2020
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: SBA President calls for the firing of Dr.Oxiris Barbot, Commissioner of NYC Dept of Health pic.twitter.com/RSBLqkU5aZ
— SBA (@SBANYPD) May 14, 2020
After Barbot blew off Monahan’s request, it was learned by NYPD officials that there was a large supply of masks, ventilators, PPE, and other equipment at a warehouse in New Jersey, sources said.
The department reached out to City Hall, which then arranged for the police department to get 250,000 additional surgical masks, sources said.
FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, found out about the situation and supplied the police department with Tyvek suits and disinfectant.
In March, a tabletop exercise at the city’s Office of Emergency Management grew tense according to a source who was in attendance. The source said that there was a “very tense moment” after Monahan told New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. in front of Barbot, about the department’s desperate need for PPE.
“For weeks, we haven’t gotten an answer.”
De Blasio was seated between Monahan and Barbot, and he asked her, “Oxiris, what is he talking about?” the source said.
Monahan related that the gear was vital to keeping police officers safe, to which de Blasio replied, “You definitely need it,” and instructed Barbot, “Oxiris, you’re going to fix this right now.”
The Post said that at last week’s daily coronavirus briefing, Barbot was “noticeably absent” after having been a regular participant in de Blasio’s coronavirus briefings.
In fact, at that meeting de Blasio announced that the city’s public hospital system would be taking over a “major testing and tracing program,” despite the fact that Department of Health had previously been in charge of similar programs.
Additionally, de Blasio went out of his way to praise the head of the NYC Health & Hospitals, Dr. Mitchell Katz, saying:
“When you have an inspired operational leader, you know, pass the ball to them is my attitude.”
Barbot had been named the city’s health commissioner by de Blasio in 2018 after the previous commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett, resigned to take a job at Harvard University.
This occurred while an investigation was underway into the Department’s failure to notify federal officials about elevated levels of lead in the blood of children living in city housing projects.
“During the height of COVID, while our hospitals were battling to keep patients alive, there was a heated exchange between the two where things were said out of frustration but no harm was wished on anyone,” Department of Health press secretary Patrick Gallahue said, while noting that Barbot had “apologized for her contribution to the exchange.”
The NYPD has yet to comment.
As a reminder, on Feb. 2nd, Barbot was telling New York residents to take the subways, take buses, go out to your favorite restaurant; oh, and don’t miss the parade next week.
Barbot on Feb. 2nd: "There is no reason not to take the subway, not to take the bus, not to go out to your favorite restaurant, and certainly not to miss the parade next Sunday.” (via FNC) pic.twitter.com/qpg2aKCChV
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) March 27, 2020
Besides Lynch, City Councilman Joe Borelli and Congressman Max Rose both joined in on calls for her dismissal.
Borelli was originally against the transferring of the test and tracing program to the public hospitals. After learning of Barbot’s comments, he said:
“I judged the mayor incorrectly for shifting duties away from her if this is how she feels about her job.”
Rose tweeted: “This kind of attitude explains so much about City Hall’s overall response to this crisis. Dr. Barbot shouldn’t resign, she should be fired.”
Want to make sure you never miss a story from Law Enforcement Today? With so much “stuff” happening in the world on social media, it’s easy for things to get lost.
Make sure you click “following” and then click “see first” so you don’t miss a thing! (See image below.) Thanks for being a part of the LET family!