NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There are concerns at the NYPD about social distancing while officers try to keep the city safe during this pandemic.


Mayor Bill de Blasio wants the NYPD to be his social distance enforcement army, separating people and breaking up groups, but Police Commissioner Dermot Shea tells CBS2 political reporter Marcia Kramer he’s telling his officers to do it with grace and understanding.

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“If you’re coming out and you should not be, you’re putting others at risk,” Shea said. “It doesn’t mean somebody has to be arrested.”

A special concern, he says, are people flocking to grocery stores, schools and hospitals.

“We’re also there to take a look at the food supply and make sure that those coming to school to get food, those going to supermarkets to get food, are adequately policed, so we’re doing all of that,” Shea said.

As he tries to figure out manning issues, there’s the very real concern about cops getting the coronavirus, too.

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As of Friday afternoon, 52 NYPD members have tested positive and others are waiting for test results.

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“So at some point will you go to 12-hour shifts?” Kramer asked.

“We certainly have planned for it and we plan daily for it, but we’re not there yet. We have seen a spike, specifically in the last three days, in sick reports,” Shea said.

At a time of fear and panic in the city, the commissioner says he has no doubt that New Yorkers and the NYPD have the grit to come out on top.

“I have no doubt, Marcia. The message is we’re going to get through this. We’re gonna get through it. God bless everyone, god bless their families, and stay safe,” Shea said.

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The commissioner says the good news is that so far crime numbers are down and the concern that youth-on-youth crime would spike with schools closed has not materialized.