NEW YORK CITY — The head of the New York City Health Department and one of the faces of the coronavirus response effort in New York City is taking flack from several law enforcement unions following a report in the New York Post that she clashed with a high-raking NYPD official, saying she didn't care if officers had masks.
The Post report claimed Dr. Oxiris Barbot told Chief Terence Monahan “I don’t give two rats’ asses about your cops," when asked for 500,000 surgical masks for officers. The Post said Barbot offered to allocate 50,000 for the NYPD, saying "I need them for others."
A health department statement seemed to confirm the Post report, admitting the two get into a tense exchange.
"Dr. Barbot and Chief Monahan have a good working relationship. 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," a spokesperson said. "The commissioner apologized for her contribution to the exchange, the apology was accepted and agreement was arrived between the two to ensure that respirators were delivered to members of the force."
The exchange happened during a phone conversation in March, the Post said, with the statement from the health department acknowledging that the call took place during an urgent time in the coronavirus crisis, when the city and state were rapidly trying to increase hospital bed availability, ventilators for patients in need of intubation, and PPE for health care workers.
"This has always been about saving the lives of our healthcare workers, police officers and every New Yorker who is fighting through this pandemic," the health department spokesperson said.
Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association, called Barbot's alleged words "despicable and unforgivable."
"Dr. Barbot should be forced to look in the eye of every police family who lost a hero to this virus," he said. "Look them in the eye and tell them they aren’t worth a rat’s ass. She should have been fired the moment she uttered those words. She must resign or be fired immediately now.”
Both the Detectives Endowment Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association called for Barbot's firing, assuming the allegations against her are true.