New York City's health commissioner issued an apology to the NYPD Monday, following reports that she emphatically rejected a request for more personal protective equipment for cops, and as police unions called for her ouster.
In late March, Dr. Oxiris Barbot had a phone call with Chief of Department Terence Monahan regarding additional PPE for police, as the department sought 500,000 masks. Barbot insisted only 50,000 would be made available, and said flatly “I don’t give two rats’ a--es about your cops,” the New York Post first reported. Two officials familiar with the situation confirmed to NBC New York that Barbot made the comments.
Barbot, in her statement Monday, acknowledged a mid-March "argument" with a police official.
"I apologized to that police official then and today, I apologize to the NYPD for leaving any impression whatsoever that I don’t have utmost respect for our police department, which plays a critical role on the frontlines each and every day to keep our city safe.”
Mayor Bill De Blasio said Sunday he looked forward to Barbot "doing good and important work," although she had been noticeably absent from the mayor's daily public briefings for much of the week.
"We're going to move forward together," the mayor said Sunday, adding he has "a lot of respect for Barbot," and that she would remain in her role.
The NYC Health Department previously confirmed a "heated exchange," but said there was a "good working relationship" between Barbot and Monahan, and added that the commissioner apologized for her comments. A source with the city also told NBC New York that Barbot, who was appointed to the position in 2018, had apologized.
Despite the DOH saying an apology had been issued, some of the largest police unions in the city sounded off after the comments became public, with Police Benevolent Association President Pat Lynch calling it "despicable and unforgivable" such comments were made.
"Dr. Barbot should be forced to look in the eye of every police family who lost a hero to this virus. Look them in the eye and tell them they aren't worth a rat's a--," Lynch said, referencing the wording Barbot reportedly used with Monahan. "She should've been fired the moment she uttered those words. She must resign or be fired immediately now."
The Detective's Endowment Association also issued very strong words in response, saying the health commissioner was "endangering our men and women in blue" by blocking them from getting more supplies.
"A so-called city leader, Dr. Barbot showed her true colors as a cop-hater. Five brave NYPD Detectives died as the DEA searched for protective equipment to purchase for our members while we waited for the city to distribute masks," a union statement read. "Dr. Oxiris Barbot’s shameful behavior likely contributed to the further spread of this deadly virus. She has brought great shame to New York City government and every medical professional who is courageously fighting the Coronavirus pandemic alongside our cops."