VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) – The Virginia Beach Police Benevolent Association says the city needs to do more to protect officers from COVID-19.
“I’m just at a loss for words,” said union President Brain Luciano.
It’s unlike Luciano to not have the words. The outspoken leader of the city’s largest police union is always fighting for officers’ rights.
“COVID has become the number one killer of police officers,” he added.
The Officer Down Memorial Page and National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund report COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for officers nationwide this year.
Luciano says more and more officers are getting exposed on the job.
“We have had 16 since July 1st,” Luciano said.
But what really angers Luciano is that his officers are forced to use their own leave if they are exposed while on duty.
“Clearly, if you come to work and you have contact with a citizen or a coworker and there is a patient zero that we can link to you, and the only reason you have contact with this person is because you were on duty, that’s an on-the-job injury,” Luciano added.
The union wants to see COVID-19 classified just like any other injury that happens at work, because it believes it’s not fair for officers who are being forced to quarantine and use personal sick leave.
“The city can write a policy because they have policies for other city workers because if they are in quarantine, they can work from home,” he said. “They don’t have to use their own leave. They can work from home. Police officers can’t work from home. They can’t get guns off the street via Zoom call.”
Luciano says he’ll continue to appeal to the city manager and at the same time to the governor.
“I hope that if the city doesn’t come up with a policy that they are forced to do so by the state government,” Luciano added.
City officials tell 10 On Your Side the matter is being investigated.
“City Manager Patrick Duhaney is aware of Officer Luciano’s request,” said city spokeswomen Julie Hill. “Prior, the manager shared information with employees. The most recent email, from two weeks ago, explains to everyone that we are awaiting additional details regarding the federal strategy to determine how our organization should handle this going forward.”