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NY police union warns city will 'fall apart' if enforcement of social distancing does not end

The union representing New York City’s police officers warned that the city will “fall apart” if the police force is used to enforce social distancing measures. 

“This situation is untenable: the NYPD needs to get cops out of the social distancing enforcement business altogether,” Patrick Lynch, the president of the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, said in a statement, referring to the New York Police Department.

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The NYPD’s involvement in enforcing the city’s social distancing orders is facing scrutiny after video surfaced of an officer hitting a man in Manhattan while trying to separate people. Three men in total were arrested in the incident, and an officer is on modified duty, pending an internal review.

Lynch accused the city’s leadership of providing the police force only “vague” guidelines on how to enforce the measures and said criticism of the NYPD’s involvement in making sure people separate from one another was inevitable.

"The cowards who run this city have given us nothing but vague guidelines and mixed messages, leaving the cops on the street corners to fend for ourselves," he said. "Nobody has a right to interfere with a police action, but now that the inevitable backlash has arrived, they are once again throwing us under the bus."

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"As the weather heats up and the pandemic continues to unravel our social fabric, police officers should be allowed to focus on our core public safety mission," he continued. "If we don’t, the city will fall apart before our eyes.”

The city dispatched 1,000 police officers Saturday to ensure people follow social distancing orders as the weather heats up. New York City Mayor Bill de BlasioBill de BlasioLawyer who inspired ABC's 'For Life' to run for mayor of New York Rockefeller Center Christmas tree viewing limited to 5 minutes The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - Coast-to-coast fears about post-holiday COVID-19 spread MORE (D) called the weekend incident in Manhattan “unacceptable” but insisted that the boosted police presence would ultimately help the city.

“Just the appearance of the NYPD causes people to correct their behavior,” de Blasio said during a press conference on Monday.