Why Would a City that Has Its Own Health Department, Not Proactively Protect Our First Responders?

By: 
Gerrie Schipske, RNP, JD

I have just finished reading the article about the Long Beach Police Officer who blew the whistle on the city’s lack of protection for our first responders. I read it several times because I thought there must be something missing.

This is a city which prides itself on being one of only three California cities with its own Public Health Department. The same department that was one of the first to step up and prevent public gatherings when the influenza hit the world in 1918. Consequently, Long Beach had fewer cases and fewer deaths.

This is the same Long Beach Public Health Department that provided the first school nurse and insisted that children be vaccinated – a move which saved countless lives.

This is the same department that stepped up to provide testing for HIV and to formulate guidelines about how to make certain people were receiving the care and treatment they needed during a time of hysteria and homophobia.

So, where the hell is this same department and its appointed Board of Health (on which I served nine years) when our first responders need their leadership?

Once federal and state guidelines made it clear that precautions needed to be in place there should have been in person briefings from health care personnel at the police stations. Protective gear should have been distributed. Officers should have their temperatures taken daily and all officers should be tested.

For god’s sake, these men and women are at one-minute responding to a homeless encampment, then to a shooting, then to a resident’s house on a call. They go home to their wives, husbands and children and take with them the exposures they face every day.

When a Long Beach Police Officer in the West Division tested positive – where was the Health Department in ordering the testing all of the officers?

Take a look at the Long Beach Police Department website: http://www.longbeach.gov/police/. Not one word on what the department is doing to protect its officers. None of the city’s many, expensive websites say anything about what is being done to protect our public employees during this pandemic. However, the City of Los Angeles has a posting about protection of its public workers – actually, an order from the Mayor of that City.

After the LBPD officer complained, masks were made available and the department responded that officers get one kit which is sealed and that they need to get permission of their supervisor to break the seal to use the masks and gloves. Really?

In Los Angeles, the LAPD is now taking the temperatures of officers as they arrive for their shifts and roll calls are conducted using social distancing. Work spaces are frequently sanitized, and officers are equipped with N95 masks, gloves and goggles.

Just a few weeks ago, a naval captain blew the whistle that not enough was being done for the people on the ship. People responded about how brave he was. Well, look at this story again from a woman’s perspective. A woman who has children and who interacts with many residents and other officers. All she was asking for is protection for herself and her colleagues. Common sense protection.

Now, the attacks on the officer who blew the whistle have already started. Unfortunately, the Beachcomber is postingonline the diatribes of “anonymous” writers most likely who are paid to destroy the reputation of an officer that has served Long Beach for many years.

Be big about this LBPD. Thank the officer for caring, make meaningful changes and don’t you dare retaliate against her for doing the right thing.

--

Gerrie Schipske, RNP/JD 
schipske@gmail.com
Telephone: 562 201-1296

 

Category:

Comments

As a concerned citizen and retired Long Beach Police Officer, it really concerns me that the rank and file were not properly protected from the COVID-19 virus and one of their own patrol officers (Officer Mary Covarubias) had to go outside of the department to seek help and bring attention to the department and city, thereby risking her career and safety to do so.
Here are a few questions that come to mind when reading about police officers not being provided face masks and clean uniforms.

Has the police or health department been testing officers for the COVID-19 virus since they worked without face masks for 3 plus weeks?
Are police officers' temperature taken daily before they start their shift?
If tested, how many police officers have tested positive?
How many patrol officers are currently at home self isolating? This includes police administrators.
How many detectives are currently at home self isolating?
How many officers are using the trailers at the academy for self isolation to prevent spreading it to their family? I saw a group of trailers at the POA park lined up, is that what they're used for?
Are you concerned that the police officers wool uniforms will conceal the virus when not cleaned daily?
Is there a plan to issue officers wash and wear uniforms during this pandemic?
Are you concerned that there might be an outbreak among police officers in the coming weeks because they were working in the field unprotected?
Are you prepared for the potential workers comp claims and and exposure claims because the officers weren't protected for the past 3 plus weeks?
Lastly, how many citizens or family members have been exposed to the virus from police officers they've come in contact with in the past 3 plus weeks?

I have friends and family working for the city and Police Department and I am deeply concerned for their well being, their families well being and the citizens they've come in contact with's well being.

There is an obvious disconnect, neglect, or incompetence, between the Health Department, City Hall, and the Police Department for this to occur and cause a 26-year veteran to risk her career to speak out publicly because she was ignored by her chain of command.

Those officers who work with or around Officer Mary Covarubias, please stand with her during this extremely stressful time. Don't let her stand alone.

I pray that there will be no outbreak at the Police Department or to the officers families, and to the citizens they serve.

LBPD administrators: "Do the right thing by Officer Mary Covarubias"
NO RETALIATION!!

Mark McGuire

Isn't the LBPOA board members all Sergeants and lieutenants? aren't they considered part of the the LBPD administration? So why would the POA work against what the LBPD admin and city want? isn't it a conflict of interest to have admin represent line police officers? why would the board go against the same admin that have a say-so with the board members careers? If these board members go against Chief LUNA he would retaliate. The big question is why would these same line officers vote these Sergeants and lieutenants to the board LOL "NOT TO SMART" and to think these same officers make life and death decisions every day with the lives of LB citizens. If they can't see the obvious how can we expect them to make good decision with the citizens they come in contact with. SMH "Hell Mcfly"

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