Nassau Republican legislators on Monday unveiled the design for a new service bar for sworn officers and a commemorative pin for health care workers and first responders on the front lines during the coronavirus pandemic.
The service bar would be worn above a police or correction officer's shield. For health care workers in the 11 hospitals in the county, a circular pin would be worn on the lapel.
The move is to show gratitude for their service during the surge of the pandemic. Nassau saw its first confirmed novel coronavirus case on March 5 with the surge peaking later that month and through April.
The county legislature's Presiding Officer Richard Nicolello said the small gesture honors the front line workers who were "going into situations that were highly dangerous, and were exposing themselves to potentially catch the virus.”
Nicolello (R-New Hyde Park) called the workers "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."
The first responders, including county police, firefighters, correction officers, emergency medical technicians and health care workers, also will receive citations similar to those given to first responders for their service during and after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in Manhattan.
"In these times when police officers are under attack, it's great to be recognized for what seems to be getting lost in the sauce lately, such as COVID," said Nassau Police Benevolent Association president James McDermott, referring to what he characterized as anti-police campaigns such as the "defund police movement.
In a statement, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran praised the new recognition for front line workers.
"I firmly believe this crisis didn’t create heroes; it revealed the heroes already among us," Curran said. "It is important that we continue to stay vigilant and on guard as COVID-19 continues to spread, and cases spike around the country."
Curran said she had asked Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder to amend department rules for uniforms and equipment so officers can display the service bars on their uniforms.
A spokesman for the GOP legislative majority said he did not know the cost of the program. Republicans hold an 11-8 majority on the Legislature; vendor contracts only require approval of the Rules Committee.