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March 13, 2020

A police union says officers don’t have enough masks

New York City police officers have formally accused their department of failing to adequately equip them to do their jobs during the outbreak.

In a complaint filed this week, the Police Benevolent Association, which represents 24,000 officers, said the department had violated federal workplace-safety laws by not training officers on how to interact with the public as the virus spreads and by not providing enough respirator masks or cleaning supplies.

A Police Department spokesman said that in the past two weeks more than a million safety supplies, including gloves and surgical and respiratory masks, had been distributed to station houses.

But on Friday, union officials identified dozens of station houses and other locations where there were still no or short supplies of masks and gloves.

Officers are being asked to place surgical masks on some people they interact with if they believe the people could be infected with the virus, officials said.Officers will have  access to N-95 respiratory masks for personal use if a supervisor feels it is warranted, officials said.

The department has also hired 100 additional cleaners to disinfect station houses.

No police department employees have tested positive for coronavirus.