SW: When did you first become aware of COVID -9 within the department?
Capt. Cariello: The alarm bell went off when we all learned about Patient Zero from New Rochelle and suddenly the virus was in our backyard. My Executive Officer and I were two of the many members who suddenly had to confront a new and
dangerous assailant. Where before these men had trained how to enter a building knowing they might have to engage a
situation with domestic violence or some other dangerous suspect might be present and armed, none of their training had
really prepared them to confront this new invisible enemy who could be lurking around every corner and could be disguised
in the form of anyone on the street on in a car or inside a building. Any encounter could expose these officers to possible serious illness and, in turn, they could expose their families at home to the same danger and that is something every officer attempts to avoid at all costs.
SW: How has this new reality changed life in the precinct and the department overall?
Capt. Cariello: All new training protocols had to be put in place and a whole new regimen of safety measures including closing local precincts to public access and diverting citizens to downtown central location where they were set up to do proper screening. All new safety clothing was issued and had to be worn when entering a building or a situation where COVID-19 might be present. Two-man patrols were changed so that each officer drove their own vehicle in responding to a call for service. Complainants who called dispatch were screened at the time of the call and asked to meet the officer outside the premises unless a serious situation dictated otherwise. Any officers who were called to a scene where they might have been exposed to COVID were immediately sent to a decontamination staging area set up by police headquarters and managed through Emergency Services Unit. They would be required to change clothes and those clothes were fully cleaned and disinfected before being returned to the officer, As a result of these safety procedures only 1 officer out of 70 who had such encounters ultimately tested positive for COVID-19. Work schedules were altered to allow longer shifts of 12 hours for two day rotations followed by 6 days off so if the officer was infected he would most likely be at home where he could more easily self- quarantine if necessary should he or she come down with symptoms. This was somewhat modeled after the
Chernobyl clean up where workers had to be exposed to high radiation but did so in shortened shift patterns to minimize exposure.
SW: What was the impact of COVID-19 on crime levels?
Capt Cariello: Crime levels in the first two months of the year were up significantly most of which was attributed to the recent bail reform changes
that meant in some cases repeat offenders would be released where normally they would have to post bail or be held in detention until their trial
date. Then in March April when COVID hit the numbers started to go down and in April the fall off was significant because so many retail businesses
were closed and many folks were sheltering at home. The precinct experienced a 28% drop in Part 1 Crime in April 2020 compared to April 2019
SW: How has COVID affected your calls for service and response?
Capt Cariello: Most of the calls recently have come in the form of calls for aid related to the COVID outbreak. So, as you can imagine, this
presents a whole new type of stress these officers have to confront on a daily basis. Many officers must now engage citizens in what they call a
retraining exercise to get them to comply with the social distancing rules and for the most part, citizens have been very understanding and
appreciative. They are also confronting sometimes having to enter COVID infested areas wondering whether their Tyvek suits will ultimately protect
them from harm or will they carry the virus home to their families
SW: An issue close to our hearts here in Armour Villa and our neighboring communities is with the warm weather comes the speeding, drag racing
and noise pollution caused by loud mufflers on both autos and motorcycles. What is being done about that?
Capt. Cariello: In response to citizen complaints, a joint task force made up of state police, county police and local police departments resulted in
two enforcement actions that yielded over 100 summonses over the several weekends for speeding and noise violations. It also resulted in several
arrests for failure to yield to an officer, aggravated unlicensed operation and a speeding violation for exceeding 120mph on the New York State
Thruway. The operation involved Troop K and Troop T of the New York State Police along with Westchester County Police. An enforcement action
the prior week yielded another 100+ summons and two arrests. It is likely the warmer weather, coupled with the lack of vehicles on the road, has
created a perverse incentive for this type of activity to spike in our area. We hope to keep the pressure on to discourage more of this type of
nuisance violation and potential hazard to safety from ramping up.
SW: Is there anything you want the 1st precinct communities to know?
Capt. Cariello: Yes, very much so. I want to extend my thanks on behalf of the precinct and the department overall for the unbelievably generous
donations of food to the precinct over the last couple of months by individuals and local businesses who themselves are struggling to survive. Myself
and my men and women in the precinct were really moved by this show of gratitude and respect.
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