On The Pandemic’s Front Lines


Nassau County Legislature Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello admitted it was “a small gesture.”
PBA President James McDermott and other public union reps appreciated it nonetheless.
On June 22, Nicolello and his majority caucus unveiled pins and bars the county will distribute to law enforcement, health care workers and first responders in recognition of their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

The new “service bar” (top) will be distributed to all Nassau County sworn officers to be worn on their lapels. Non-uniformed health care workers, doctors and nurses will be given circular pins that can be worn to represent their service and emphasize the community’s thanks.
(Photo by Frank Rizzo)

Standing in front of the Theodore Roosevelt Executive Legislative Building, Nicolello hearkened back to the height of the pandemic in the county, with 50 percent testing positive and daily death counts in the dozens.
“It was truly a scary time,” he affirmed, adding, “While we were sheltering in place, our front line workers: our police, our doctors, our nurses, our firefighters, police medics and correction officers were all going to work every day, and were all going into situations that were highly dangerous, and were exposing themselves to potentially catch the virus.”
He continued, “These people are tremendously courageous and dedicated, and they are truly our heroes. These service bars and pins are a small gesture, but it’s a way to say thank you for all these brave men and women did during a harrowing time.”

McDermott observed, “In these times, when police officers are under attack, it’s really a great day when we get recognized for the things that seem to be getting lost in the sauce lately—such as COVID-19. While everybody was quarantining, we were out there doing the job. We were dealing with this disease. We were dealing with death.”
Numerous PBA members contracted COVID-19, McDermott related, “but thank God, nobody died. We had a couple that came close.”

Turning to the pins and bars, the union head said, “You know what they say: it’s the little things in life. Getting this bar is exactly that—it’s a recognition for a job well done. I’m so proud of all our cops, detectives and supervisors for the work that they did during COVID and continue to do. It’s not over yet.”

McDermott thanked the legislature for the gesture and “for not forgetting about us during our time of need.”
“The first responders and healthcare workers that worked day in and day out during this crisis, including not just the great doctors and nurses in the Nassau University Medical Center, but also many people you don’t hear about very often: the police medics, the deputy sheriffs, the probation officers, the health department officials, the fire marshals, the fire comm operators, the medical examiners unit, to name a few,” said Ron Gurerri, president of the Nassau County CSEA. “These workers deserve out thank you and these pins and bars are a great way to show that.”

Brian Sullivan, president of the Nassau County Correction Officers Benevolent Association, represents approximately 800 officers.
“It’s a proud day to come here and be recognized,” he said.
More than 100 officers tested positive, he related, and eight were hospitalized and came close to being put on ventilators.
“Thank God every one of them came out of it and came back to work,” Sullivan said. “We have one [CO] that’s awaiting a test right now. We went through a bad time.”

Members of the majority caucus were joined by representatives from the county’s health care, police, firefighters, medics and first responder community to unveil a new recognition for those that served on the front lines of this health battle.
According to a press release, “These pins and bars are the first items being presented to first responders and healthcare workers for COVID-19 service by any local government in New York State.”

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Frank Rizzo is a journalist at Anton Media Group. With decades of experience in the industry, he is exceptionally equipped to cover local politics, business and other topics that matter to readers.

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