Cops Cater to Hospital Heroes

By Stephen Owsinski

I am constantly reminded why I joined the law enforcement family. While our nation —our planet— endures the stark reality of the coronavirus pandemic, first responders toeing the line deserve nothing shy of honor. In times such as these, we see some front-line defenders praising others who are also in the life-saving business.

The past week has evolved in some fascinating examples of wondrous human nature—and there are no signs of anything but robust back-up. As scores of people are diagnosed and lives balance on the brink, it is those preserved by medical face masks and armed with stethoscopes to monitor the respiratory efficacy of ill patients who are being honored by those whose iconic armament is a badge of justice protected by a service weapon.

In New York City, hundreds of NYPD cops showed up outside Jamaica Hospital in Queens County to cater trays of food and cases of water to the many skilled yet fatigued nurses, doctors, technicians and the contingent array of folks who keep the life-blood of a hospital functioning with death staring them in the face.

NYC Police Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch took to the police podium set outside Jamaica Hospital, orating, “We are all family on the front lines. Cops, nurses, doctors and hospital staff have a long-standing bond—we know each other and work together 365 days a year. That bond has only grown stronger over the past several weeks. This is our small way of showing our Jamaica Hospital sisters and brothers that we haven’t forgotten the professionalism and support they show us [law enforcement officers] every time we walk through their doors. It also shows regular New Yorkers that their emergency personnel are united in responding to this crisis.”

As I understand it, a similar exhibition of deserved praise and honor for hospital heroes is scheduled to commence in Los Angeles. Perhaps we’ll even see such gestures of support from other pillars in varying communities across the United States.

A friend of mine who serves as a night-shift LAPD police sergeant wrote the following heartfelt response to what these cops are doing for the noble folks staffing our nation’s besieged hospitals: “Many times in my career I’ve seen instances where the public has gathered, stood by and applauded police officers and firefighters as they passed by, either going to or from work (after 9/11, after the California wildfires, after Vegas Route 91 shooting, after the Hollywood Bank Shootout, etc.)

“As the police myself, seeing that always hits the heart.

“[Recently] in New York City, the police and the firefighters were the ones who lined up, outside a hospital, and applauded the doctors, surgeons, nurses, and medical techs, as they left the hospital after their shifts.

“It was truly something to see, and I’m not ashamed to say that it put a few tears in my eyes.”

That street sergeant works midnight shift and, despite his own fatigued state, took note of how the human experience is epitomized, especially by those dedicated to public service and, in this case, public health.

The reverie and applause provided by police officers for hospital personnel in New York City was the flip-side to provisions of food and drink. The NYPD is notably the largest municipal police agency in the nation. Despite reports of their own PPEs (personal protective equipment) being abysmally depleted, their heart for others rose to the challenge regardless. The police unions in the NYPD pooled their resources and bused in enough food and refreshments to supply a tiny nation. Several, actually. These selfless actions also unfolded at the Montefiore Medical Center in The Bronx.

Besides enough food for the metaphorical tiny nation officially known as Montefiore Medical Center, there was a continent of compassion. A NYC Police Benevolent Association press release coined it quite well: “When the heroes at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx came off their long shift this morning, dozens of cops were there with food and applause to show them how much their life-saving work means to our entire city. We’re all family on the front lines—the uniforms are different, the mission is the same.” It hits benevolence right where it matters: The heart.

In a video posted on social media channels, sirens blared, cops clapped, and food tray after food tray was distributed via human conveyor belt…funneled in through the hospital doors. Although this makes for a justified sensational gesture, I couldn’t help but to take note of the beleaguered doctors, nurses, and hospital security —all in respective scrubs or whatever uniform worn for their designated purpose— shuffling out to meet/greet their supporters supplying food to fortify…to make it through to the other side of the clock.

Perhaps a New York state-of-mind, the NYC Police Benevolent Association didn’t curtail their compassion. A testament to patriotic duty and diligence in honoring those endeavoring life-saving measures, the PBA president said, “Today, we’re here to say thank you to the nurses and doctors in this hospital. But we want to be loud enough so that doctors and nurses and maintenance workers in hospitals across the city hear us as well.”

I suspect plans are underway for NYPD cops and their union bosses aggregating ample supplies of food/drinks to be catered to many hospitals in their massive five-county jurisdiction. Having been raised in NYPD territory, I can attest it is a New York state-of-mind to do what can be done by many who see the needs of others…and wasting no time filling that need. It’s a cop’s routine purpose, really, only emphasized by pandemic proportions. In this case, it is about filling bellies while lifting spirits of those belabored in their life-saving mission.

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