NYPD Has Little Protection From Ebola

Hospital Gear much like what has been given to NYPD officers. ~ Courtesy of Free Images, by adamci
Hospital Gear similar to what has been given to NYPD officers. ~ Courtesy of Free Images, by adamci

According to local news sources, the NYPD and Port Authority cops have been given little to no protective gear for dealing with Ebola victims should there be one. Those same news sources claim FDNY medics have been given the task of picking up “high fever” victims. Dispatchers are not allowed to use the word “Ebola.”

What worries me as a resident of Gotham is that we seem to be behind the 8-ball on this one. I do not have the greatest confidence in the current city leadership in the best of times, and this is not the best of times. The current leadership has been plagued (you should pardon the expression) with a series of blunders and mishaps. This penchant for not being quite on top of things is worrying me, to say the least.

At New York City’s airports, police officers are getting “high risk kits” which sell for about $5.00 when ordered in bulk. These kits come in a small pouch, much like the ones rain ponchos are sold in. They contain a paper gown lined with some sort of claimed protective polyurethane coating. Paper gowns to protect from Ebola? Apparently they’re serious. They claim these gowns are “impervious.” Really? That’s what NYC is giving it’s first responders? Insanity!!!

The FDNY has the paper gowns as well but is ordering quality, three layer body suits for its EMS workers…who as mentioned earlier, have been assigned to pick up the city’s “high fever” victims. All high fever victims picked up by FDNY medics will be taken to Bellevue Hospital, the city’s premier public hospital, which has 20 isolation rooms. Bellevue’s morgue has the distinction of being the city’s first morgue. It’s also thought by many to be the creepiest of morgues. It’s been written about in many a crime fiction novel. Sorry, couldn’t help mentioning that.

Given all this (and getting back to the main point). the man from Nigeria who had diarrhea and was vomiting who came to JFK airport (NYC) has died. Apparently it has very quickly been determined it was not Ebola. I hope this is not another mistake, another instance of coming from behind.

 

They’re Shooting It Up In Brooklyn ~ this in a city with stringent gun control

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Everyone’s talking about it. I heard it on the news and on talk radio this morning. The number of shootings has risen dramatically in New York City over the last month. This in a city with one of the most, if not the most stringent gun control laws…and a former mayor, billionaire Michael Blumberg, who uses his money and influence in other cities all over the country trying to get them to ban hand guns.

The rise in shootings has been most dramatic in Brooklyn. The way they tabulate is they have a “rolling 28-day tally” which is updated weekly. The last two 28-day incident and victim tallies increased by 30 and 40 percent, respectively.

NYPD Shield Law enforcement experts explain the recent increase in shooting by citing the warmer weather and a marked increase in gang activity, especially in Brooklyn. Monday night, a 13-year old boy bystander was with his aunt and younger cousin in Flatbush-Ditmas Park when they were caught in the middle of a gang shooting. The boy was shot in the head and sustained an eye injury. The three ran into a pizzeria for cover, with blood oozing down the boy’s face. The shooter was later seen on video tape and the police are investigating.

The 73rd Precinct, covering part of East New York (Brooklyn), accounts for one-third of all shootings and incidents in the city, with 24 shootings this year, compared to 14 at this point in the summer last year. This according to police sources.

It has been reported that the NYPD is looking to put together an over-arching conspiracy case against some of the gangs that run territory in shooting-hot-spots. One police source commented to news media outlets that police stop-and-frisk encounters are down, but the number of guns confiscated increased. However, he did not have stats on the number of guns actually confiscated.

There has to be a good look at the abandonment of stop-and-frisk. Cold, hard statistics must be provided. Questions must be answered. Why is it in a city where law abiding citizens can’t obtain a license for a hand gun, it seems any fifteen year-old gang member can get his hands on a semi-automatic weapon?

The Glamorous Digs of an NYPD Precinct Detective

We all see the pristine, spacious offices and shiny cubicles of police detectives on television. So, I was somewhat shocked to see my where the detectives were quartered at my local police precinct.

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I’m sure I must’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.

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Actually, this seems to be it.

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Yes, indeed, this is it. Right up there it says, “DETECTIVES.”

Actually, I’m impressed with the way they’ve handled shabby-chic to perfection.

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What impeccable interior decorating skills. I can only conclude that these aging file cabinets are here solely for their “vintage effect.”

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Taking a closer look, I see this is the door through which detectives go for “roll call.” Oh, my, this doesn’t look anything like the duty rooms I’ve seen on television. Clearly the interior decorator who designed this precinct was going for another look. That’s got to be it.

They Dishonor Those Truly Disabled Because of 9/11

9.11, Twin Towers Statue of Liberty 2The morning the planes hit the Twin Towers, I walked from where I had been glued to the television in my kitchen and out onto my front porch. The wind blew from the inferno in lower Manhattan charred fragments of letter head, what might have been accounting forms, and the like. They landed in my driveway and on the sidewalk in front of the house, and in the street.

Weeks and then months went by and every time I drove past a funeral parlor, members of the New York Police Department and New York Fire Department were in dress uniforms for yet another funeral. The funerals seemed endless.

Workers toiled for endless hours trying first to save victims, then switching to recovery. One of my neighbors who is licensed to work with heavy equipment volunteered day-after-day at Ground Zero hoping to find the remains of his cousin. He never did. Many put their own health at risk. These are the heroes.

So, it galls me to no end when a good 100 members of the New York City Police Department and the New York City Fire Department allegedly faked mental illnesses and psychological maladies claiming they were “traumatized” by their work at Ground Zero and then turn around and collect Social Security benefits into the hundreds of thousands of dollars each. And they say more arrests will come.

I applaud New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance for busting these criminal cops and firefighters. If they are guilty of what they’ve been charged (and it appears they are), they dishonor their uniform. They trivialize those who were truly disabled and traumatized by the terrorist attack on 9/11. They should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

It is said these suspects have cheated tax payer of $21.4 million dollars. I know a million doesn’t go as far as it used to, but that’s still a lot of money that belongs to the people. A 200-page indictment claims these individuals collected between $30K – $50K per year for succumbing to supposed crippling emotional ailments following the 9/11 attack, such as deep depression, post traumatic stress syndrome, severe anxiety, and the like.

As will often be the case, these guys felt untouchable and so they lived openly flamboyant lifestyles. They posted photos on Facebook of themselves living large and dashed off tweets. One of the suspects who claimed to be terrified of crowds was found selling cannolis at the St. Gennaro Festival in Little Italy which always has wall-to-wall crowds. Another was working as a martial arts instructor. The 70-year old ringleader coached them on how to come off as mental patients before hand-picked psychiatrists…this coaching, of course, was allegedly for a nice kickback.

Oh, what a web they wove. But it was a small thing that tripped them up in the end. Many of them applied for gun permits in which they stated they were mentally stable enough to carry a firearm.

Note: Photo courtesy of The Creative Commons.

 

Was the Baby Abused, or was it a Horrid Lack of Parental Competence???

It was just another day in Gotham where there are at least a hundred thousand poignant stories…and this is one of them.

The morning held dense fog — visibility at about two tenths of a mile. But by afternoon, though damp, mothers were pushing their baby carriages to Baby and Me play sessions and older children were being picked up from school.

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This baby, however, was not so lucky. He was brought into one of New York City’s busiest public hospitals in cardiac arrest. All the doctors and most of the nurses in the pediatric emergency room rushed to assist. It really did look like what was depicted in the television drama of a few years ago, “ER.” It was obvious something was very wrong.

 

IMG_0540All the while on the wall paper border at the ceiling cheerful blue elephants cavorted with purple zebras, blue monkeys, and pink flamingoes. A green alligator rode a blue hippo, and a green turtle hitched a ride on a pink hippo. If I kept my focus there it almost seemed normal. I could almost forget the nurse who literally raced to get a piece of equipment she wheeled into where they were working on the baby.

Then two New York City Police Department detectives showed up, followed by two uniformed police officers. One of the detectives asked the doctor if he had been told why it had taken nearly a half hour for 911 to be called. Shortly after that, one hospital staff member whispered to another that the mother had seemed weirded out. Of course she could’ve been freaked because her baby was unresponsive.

They worked on the baby for three hours. The doctor who heads the ER came down. Of course, I was praying up a storm. I believe prayer is effective. I believe in addition to concrete problems in the physical world, there is an unseen realm where the Lord’s blessings and miracles can and do happen, regularly.

Then two more detectives showed up. One detective asked the pediatrician in charge once again what he knew about the length of time it had taken to phone 911.

Conversation flew back and forth between hospital personnel and I was relieved to surmise the baby was resuscitated, stabilized, and was being moved to a large private hospital I know to have an extensive pediatric unit.

I don’t know what the law enforcement determination was. But I do know there are many children in this city who suffer. I know many parents are overwhelmed. Babies are having babies. Most parents do not have the support of an extended family. I wish I had answers. I don’t. I wish I could wrap this up with a poignant sentence. I can’t.

Thanksgiving Day, a Chance for Citizens to Focus on Important Stuff

I love the Thanksgiving holiday for many reasons. Yes, it beckons to my favorite holiday… Christmas, but that’s not the biggest reason why I love Thanksgiving. As a card carrying foodie, I love making a menu for Thanksgiving dinner. I do that every single year, pull out the holiday cookbooks and decide what I’m going to make to go with the bird.

As I hit the supermarkets, invariably I start thinking about food donations for those less fortunate. Giving seems to go naturally with Thanksgiving. With the holiday’s roots in our religious and cultural past, Thanksgiving asks us to think beyond ourselves. It urges us to engage in acts of kindness.

Often my daughter’s school would collect food at Thanksgiving, but this year her high school didn’t.

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So, I turned to City Harvest and found out the New York Fire Department, the New York Police Department, and many Modells Sporting Goods stores were collecting food.

Off I went to the 321 Engine Hook & Ladder Company on the edge of Marine Park.

 

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Of course, when approaching from the front, I couldn’t figure out how to get in. Then I realized I had to walk down the side alley. At the side door was where a firefighter happily took my bags of non-perishable food items.

Indeed I love the aroma of roasting turkey wafting around the house on Thanksgiving Day, the lingering smell of pumpkin pied just baked. There’s nothing like padding around the next day in PJs and an old pair of sweat socks while eating left over pie for breakfast, heating mashed sweet potatoes in the microwave for lunch and making turkey sandwiches. But the most gratifying thing is knowing how blessed my family is… and it is blessed indeed. There have been challenges, to say the least. But God had also richly blessed us. To my mind the best way to show gratitude is by giving.

For information about City Harvest, call (800) 77-HARVEST or email fooddrives@cityharvest.org.

How I Connect Creating a Character From Someone I Know in Life and the NYPD’s Safe Surrender Program

8.2013 Safe Surrender

The sign on the church building behind the NYC Courts’ vehicle says:  Safe Surrender Program

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I’ve had my eye on a particular kid for a while. She can be rather charming at times, especially if it might get her something. She has been known to be helpful, even sensitive to others. But that’s not what grabs my attention. What pulls my character locator toward her is that most of the time she’s totally self-centered and has a dangerously myopic view of life and the world. That’s true of most teens, but she’s perfected the art form.

Of course, when crafting a character based upon someone from real life, I change quite a few details. Hair color, age, height, gender. So, while observing a rebellious female minor child, I might be creating a male nineteen year old with the same psychological profile. Or I might be creating an 18 year old female character who bears no physical resemblance.

So, when this young lady’s father mentioned he had received a letter from St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church which had “avoid arrest” stamped on the outside, I became intrigued. Dad explained the letter outlined the NYPD’s Safe Surrender Program, which while not an amnesty program, still does provide those who show up and face the misdemeanor charges against them some due consideration in sentencing. His daughter denied getting a summons. She became belligerent, claiming the letter was bogus. She contended the church had no authority over her anyway. Her dad explained to her the program was run by the New York City Police Department. At that point she left the table. The dad felt legally and ethically he had to go answer the summons whether his daughter went or not. Naturally, I made myself available to go as moral support.

I wanted to find out what this was all about. And frankly, I wanted to see if I could ever use something like this in a prospective story.

The Safe Surrender Program was held at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church at 4301 Avenue D, Brooklyn, NY. The Rev. Cn Dr. Howard K. Williams is the pastor. The church motto is, “To restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ.” It was held in collaboration with the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, the Office of Court Administration, the New York City Police Department, and the Legal Aid Society. Residents of Brooklyn who had outstanding summonses and/or warrants had the opportunity to come to the church and peacefully resolve those legal issues on Friday, August 16 and Saturday, August 17, 2013. Those who participated were given legal representation by attorneys from the Legal Aid Society or the Metropolitan Black Bar. Volunteers from the Brooklyn clergy community were on site to offer support and to offer resources that previously might not have been available. Police were on the street outside the church, but there wasn’t much of a police presence inside the sanctuary itself.

As soon as I arrived at the church with the “Dad”, he produced the letter and was asked for identification and he was given a purple wristband. I was told that once inside only he could represent his daughter and that I’d have to sit on one side of the sanctuary reserved for family and friends. We walked in and he was ushered into a closed off area at the back of the church to complete paperwork. I was ushered by an elderly church gentleman to a seat in the pews to the right side of the center aisle. A woman standing in the front with a microphone sang gospel songs.

After completing the necessary paperwork, he was ushered to the other side of the sanctuary where those with outstanding summonses or warrants sat. I estimated there were about one hundred and fifty individuals, the vast majority men, mostly black or Hispanic. These were not hardened criminals, but were individuals who had received misdemeanor tickets.  Everything was calm and going along in an orderly fashion. Except there was a fifty-something gentleman who was obviously inebriated. I could only wonder if his summons had been for consumption of alcohol in public.  With nothing much to do, I picked up a flier that said: No More Worry, No More Waiting. It listed some of the offenses that would be handled that day.

  • Unlawful Possession of Marijuana
  • Unlawful Possession of Alcohol under the age of 21
  • Consumption of Alcohol in Public
  • Unlawful Possession of Handcuffs
  • Littering
  • Riding a Bicycle on the Sidewalk
  • Making Unreasonable Noise
  • Animal Nuisance
  • Failure to have a Dog License
  • Spitting
  • Trespass
  • Disorderly Conduct
  • In the Park After Closing
  • Failure to Comply with a Posted Sign in Park
  • Transit Adjudication Summons (or for those who don’t live in Gotham, jumping the turn-style without paying the fare)

We sat there over five hours. The singer who was actually more of a mistress of ceremonies tried to keep everyone’s spirits up. She mentioned she also sang rhythm and blues in a club in Downtown Brooklyn and launched into a couple of tunes by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. After that we were given a pep-talk and a short, and extremely sweet moral lesson by a rabbit hand puppet named Natasha. Quite an accomplished teenage girls’ liturgical dance team performed two numbers to contemporary Christian music.

This seemed to me to be a very worthwhile community based program. The mistress of ceremonies told us it would be repeated in the fall at another church, that one in downtown Brooklyn. I was only sad that the young lady in question had not taken the opportunity to settle her outstanding legal issues. The woman judge the dad stood before was not pleased that the girl had not shown up. The judge would have dismissed all charges, but instead gave the girl another court date in September. Naturally, I indulged in a bittersweet moment of self-interest. I can do quite a lot with an irresponsible character like this in one of my upcoming novels…only the consequences for the young lady or young man (whatever gender I chose to make the character), might not have such a peaceful end result. I write murder mysteries after all.

For more information call: 718-250-3888

http://www.projectsafesurrender.org

8.2013 Safe Surrender 3

http://www.staugustinesbrooklyn.org/Pages/ministries.html