Washington, D.C. — Modifying policing practices so they are consistent with public health guidelines is key to preventing the spread of the coronavirus not only among the public but also police officers themselves, according to a new columnpublished today by the Center for American Progress. Several cities, including New York City and Detroit, have already had significant portions of their police force sidelined by COVID-19. So, changing policing practices is imperative for the health and safety of the general public and first responders.
“Physical distancing and other changes to policing practices can definitely help in slowing down the spread of the coronavirus without putting the public’s safety at risk,” said Ed Chung, vice president for Criminal Justice Reform at the CAP and co-author of the column. “Police agencies must think outside the box to protect the community and their staff from this pandemic.”
For this column, CAP interviewed Ron Davis, a former police chief and former head of the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services at the U.S. Department of Justice. “Making arrests must transition from being a common tool used by law enforcement to becoming literally a tool of last resort,” Davis said. “Putting handcuffs now has a different meaning—not only for the person whose freedom is taken, but for the law enforcement officer who has to come within 6 feet to make that arrest. We, as a society, must find viable alternatives to incarceration.”
Key recommendations include:
Read the column: “Policing During the Coronavirus Pandemic” by Ed Chung, Betsy Pearl, and Lea Hunter