March 21, 2020
Brothers and Sisters,
I know you have many concerns and questions, as do I, involving our current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation has never occurred in modern times and the book on how to deal with it is only now being written. I know your frustration with the Baltimore City government and their inefficient handling and lack of minimal preparedness for this situation. It has put many of us in the very difficult position of potentially putting our loved ones at risk. We know that first responders and health care workers are at a far greater risk of contracting COVID-19 than the general public and we have heard your comments about having willingly sworn to put your own lives on the line for the citizens of Baltimore, but certainly not your loved ones’ lives. About a week ago, I requested that the BPD secure a hotel for our members in case they needed to be quarantined in order to protect their families. I have been advised that a hotel has been secured and I am awaiting further information. The Department has set up a multi-agency COVID-19 Task Force at HQ, including the Health Department, so that appropriate advice can be given swiftly when issues are presented.
We are currently in talks with the City regarding premium pay for first responders and we hope to have this issue resolved at the beginning of the week. We also know that some in the State are receiving premium pay; not just in Public Safety, but in other industries that have greater contact with the public, as well.
FOP #3 has posed many scenario-based questions to the Department, some the result of your comments and concerns. Several of your many questions have been answered on BPD Directives that have been disseminated to all members, and others are awaiting response. I can assure you that my days and nights are spent on phone calls, and other methods of communication, with the decision makers in both the City and the BPD; all in a continuous attempt to have your issues resolved. Unfortunately, we have been notified that, as of 3/21/2020, the 7th Floor Task Force Command Center has been secured and only those approved will be admitted. I have been stopping by the Task Force office, daily, in the hope of learning more about the Department’s response and to voice your concerns directly to the people that need to hear them. I know that my questions made some uncomfortable, but I feel that our members need, and deserve, answers quickly. I have just been notified that I will no longer be allowed in the Command Center 7th floor Task Force room. I assure you that I will continue to try and get you answers to help protect you as much as possible, even though I have been cut off from the epicenter of this information.
I urge each member to keep a Log chronicling their situation as this pandemic evolves. We are doing the same at the Lodge, but our records will only be as good as the information you give us. The Department is not sharing specific information about our officers, citing direction from the Health Department and HIPPA so, as a result, we must rely on each of our members to voluntarily send your situation to us directly at [email protected].
We will continue to update you as we receive information. If you have questions regarding procedures or need direction on how to handle COVID-19 situations, please email the BPD COVID Task Force at [email protected].
Take care of one another,