Paul Brogan, ’95, is a detective for the NYPD. After testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, he returned to his post, yesterday, with The Bronx Grand Larceny Squad after being on sick-leave.
For Detective Brogan, as well as other NYPD officers, it’s still business as usual, in that he and his fellow officers are still going into the office, are solving cases, and still visit people in their homes in order to properly investigate a case. Detective Brogan has recently investigated a number of phone and email phishing scams, where offenders used COVID-19 and threats of people testing positive in your area as a reason to access a person’s social security number.
One of the challenges that Detective Brogan and other NYPD officers faces, as a result of COVID-19, is accessing information such as video footage from local businesses, many of which are now closed. For example, Detective Brogan described a case where the only business that had video footage of a crime, also disclosed that all family members running that business had tested positive for COVID-19.
They are also restricted in their ability to do face-to-face interviews when questioning people associated with an investigation. Now, when he visits someone’s home, he must identify himself as a police officer, and then leave his card in their door, hoping that the person will call him so he can investigate his case over the phone. Even when someone returns Detective Brogan’s call, he expressed challenges with being able to evaluate that person’s responses and reactions without being able to see his or her face.
When Detective Brogan joined the NYPD, he knew the risk associated with his job. He knew the danger to which he would be exposing himself, but he never expected to bring that danger home. While NYPD officers have been tasked with making people feel safe, reporting for duty now causes them to consider ‘at what point do I put my family’s health above doing my job.’
In addition to the many roadblocks Detective Brogan described, convicted felons are also being released early due to fear of COVID-19 spreading through over crowded jails. He explained that there’s a mental drain when he and his fellow officers are doing their job, and catching the bad guy only to see them released back into the general public after only a short time in jail.
Even Detective Brogan’s daily ritual at home has changed. Getting ready for work requires him to go out to his garage to change into his work clothes. When he returns home at the end of his day, he enters through the garage where he throws his work clothes in a black garbage bag, and goes to take shower, all before he makes any contact with his family.
His advice for fellow alumni as we navigate these difficult and bizarre times, comes from the serenity prayer which he credits De La Salle Academy and Mr. Marrero for teaching him. He encourages fellow alumni to get comfortable with acceptance, as we are living in a time where this virus won’t make much sense to any of us, especially those directly impacted, and the best we can do is focus on the things in our lives we have control over, and accept the things we cannot change.
While he’s aware of the sacrifice that the NYPD is making, he gives much credit to nurses and doctors whose sole responsibility is to bring people back to health and comfort them in their weakest conditions. Today, we salute Detective Brogan and the NYPD, as well as all frontline workers sacrificing their lives daily to bring our country back to full health.