Coronavirus Demands Service Before Self

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Stephen J. Caruso
  • 514th Air Mobility Wing

For one traditional reservist, Master Sgt. Andy. A. Jean-Pierre, a KC-10 Extender production supervisor with the 714th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 514th Air Mobility Wing, the Air Force core value of service before self extends well beyond the drill weekend, especially now amid the Coronavirus crisis.

Jean-Pierre is a veteran police officer with the New York Police Department in Brooklyn, N.Y. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he has been assigned to temporary duty in the Bronx, the city’s northernmost borough. 

Since the Coronavirus outbreak, his job to protect and serve New Yorkers has rapidly expanded from local public safety to public health, with global implications. As of early April, much of New York City has been shut down as COVID-19 cases mount, straining medical care facilities, first response units, and of course, the police department.

Due to the overwhelming number of 911 alerts flooding the lines of first responders, the NYPD is providing additional manpower to field calls and provide emergency support.

"Many 911 calls come from older city residents who have difficulty breathing," said Jean-Pierre.

Of course, Jean-Pierre and the NYPD are still patrolling the city’s streets. One of the main public safety goals is simply making sure people are taking warnings and stay-at-home orders from local and state officials seriously. 

“We go up and down the streets with our loudspeaker and advise people to stay in, not to come out if they don’t need to,” said Jean-Pierre. 

"As the weather gets warmer, convincing people to stay home could be increasingly challenging," said Jean-Pierre, who recently had to ask a crowd gathering for a barbeque in a park to disperse. 

According to Jean-Pierre, the NYPD is playing a critical role in the city’s public messaging. Officers are often the first line of communication with citizens.

“We’re trying to put the message out there in every way we can, using social media, even stickers on the backs of cars, to help people stay safe,” said Jean-Pierre. “Like any other city, everybody is worried about Coronavirus—especially the elderly.”

Even while off-duty, Jean-Pierre is helping in New York’s fight against COVID-19, volunteering to deliver groceries to elderly members of his church who are unable to leave home with the threat of Coronavirus. He says it gets him out of the house and it is gratifying to serve others in his down time.

“They are afraid to get sick, so I just leave groceries at the door,” said Jean-Pierre. “They call me to thank me.”

"It's the first responders and hospital workers who really deserve the thanks," said Jean-Pierre. “I don’t know how they do it. They are all heroes.”

Jean-Pierre anticipates that the situation will continue to keep the NYPD very busy. According to him, having the flexibility to perform unit training assembly periods remotely on a flexible schedule allows him to be more available to work extra shifts for officers who may be out sick. 

“It was an amazing idea,” said Jean-Pierre. “It’s helped me tremendously. Whenever you have drill, you have to coordinate with work and take time off. That’s one less person you have for coverage. Our [NYPD] operation’s are 24-hours, so when weekends come we have to let them know we will be out.”

According to Jean-Pierre, the military, much like the NYPD, can play a key role in battling Coronavirus, especially when it comes to public opinion.

“We have to show our resiliency,” said Jean-Pierre. “We have to show that we can get through this. We have to show that we are on the same page as our leadership, and lead by example. A lot of people think highly of the military. We have to show them that we know what we’re doing.”