Chief-Leader
February 17, 2012

 

Move to Force NYPD To Provide ‘9/11’ Duty Lists

By MARK TOOR
Posted: Monday, February 13, 2012

   
PATRICK J. LYNCH: ‘Stop the obstruction.’  

State lawmakers from New York City said they would introduce a bill this week that would require the NYPD to give Federal cancer researchers the names of the approximately 12,000 police officers who worked at Ground Zero.

The World Trade Center program at Mount Sinai Medical Center, perhaps the leading project researching illnesses of 9/11 first-responders, asked for the information to help determine whether cancer qualifies as a disease eligible for assistance under the James L. Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act.

Decision Scheduled Soon

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health is reviewing its initial decision last summer that cancer is not covered. The agency is expected to make a decision next month.

The Police Department has refused to turn over the names. Chief Surgeon Eli J. Kleinman cited issues of medical privacy and departmental confidentiality.

Mayor Bloomberg, while noting that the NYPD generally tries to give information without attaching officers’ names, held out hope that the dispute would be resolved. “We are trying to work something out,” he said. “There are privacy issues, both in state law and city law. I do think that we will find a way to give out that information.”

But State Sen. Diane Savino and Assemblyman Micah Kellner don’t want to wait. Senator Savino’s office confirmed Feb. 10 that the two would introduce a bill mandating that the department turn over the names.

Senator Savino said the bill “would compel the City of New York to provide a rate of cancer for police officers of the NYPD who were responders of the rescue, recovery and clean-up of the World Trade Center attack. The results of the analysis are needed for NIOSH to determine whether or not to include cancer under the Federal Zadroga law. Proper medical-care coverage and other benefits could be lost to these brave first-responders without the establishment of a cancer rate for NYPD responders.”

Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association President Patrick J. Lynch said the city needs to turn over the information. “If the city releases the data it is now suppressing,” he said in a statement,“it will confirm that over 56 young police officers have died from a variety of cancers—including lung, kidney and nasal cancers—and hundreds more are gravely ill with cancer as a direct result of their exposures at Ground Zero and other locations,” he said in a statement.

“It is time to stop the obstruction and provide funds for treating cancers in those men and women who selflessly answered this city and nation’s call in its hour of greatest need,” he continued. “How many more have to die before the city releases this data?”

The PBA released figures last week showing that 297 of its members have been diagnosed with cancer since working at Ground Zero, sorting through debris at the Fresh Kills Landfill, or at other areas where they were exposed to wreckage from the attack. Their average age was 44. Fifty-six of the officers have died. An average of 16 cops per year apply for cancer-related disability status, compared with six per year before 2001, the union said.

The state Health Department concluded in a report issued last September that through 2009, 836 police officers, firefighters, construction workers and other first-responders died as a result of exposure to toxic material at Ground Zero.

‘City Has Done Nothing’

The NYPD has refused repeated requests for data from the Mount Sinai, which runs a treatment program for first-responders, monitors 30,000 of them and last September published the first major long-term study about physical and health problems resulting from exposure to Ground Zero.

“It is our sincere opinion that the City of New York has done nothing to facilitate any cancer study and has been actively working to prevent a comprehensive examination of the issue,” PBA Research Director Frank Tramontano told a City Council hearing Jan. 30.

Bloomberg administration officials said the city is working on its own study of cancer rates.