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NEW YORK — The NYPD has been one of the forces on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak, but the department has been met with criticism on arrests and an alleged exchange between the health commissioner and an NYPD chief.

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea called the reports about the heated exchange between Dr. Oxiris Barbot and NYPD Chief Terence Monahan “a little bit disturbing.”

A New York Post report claimed Dr. Barbot told Chief Monahan “I don’t give two rats’ asses about your cops,” when asked for 500,000 surgical masks for officers.

Shea said he can’t say the remarks are accurate, but that “the facts matter” in this situation.

“What we know now is different from two months ago” when it comes to the virus, so fears were at a different high than it is now, he added.

The police commissioner responded to criticism over social-distancing arrests and racist allegations, saying “there is no doubt whatsoever” that data shows racial disparities in arrests and summonses, but disparities go beyond the NYPD and racial bias has been “deeply rooted” for generations.

Shea also added that it has been “extremely rare” for social-distancing violations to result in summonses and arrests and most people have complied. He also asks for New Yorkers to comply to the NYPD when confronted about social distancing guidelines.

The NYPD has lost 41 members of the department to COVID-19. At one point of the pandemic, about 20% of the force was out sick. Most members of the department have recovered and returned to work.