June 3, 2020


PERF’s COVID-19 coronavirus resources, including past editions of the Daily COVID-19 Report, are available at https://www.policeforum.org/coronavirus.


For today’s COVID-19 Report, we asked agencies how the pandemic has affected their data collection and reporting efforts, and how new types of data are impacting operations.


Key Takeaways

-- ‘Virtual Compstat’ enables participation by a wider audience.  Because Compstat is now being conducted online rather than in person, agencies are able to invite more participants and are seeing overall higher attendance. But not all agencies have time for bigger Compstat meetings. Some agencies are detecting spikes in burglaries, domestic violence, and shots fired.

-- To protect officer safety, agencies are collecting and sharing health data by location, but not by people. Through new call-taking procedures and heat maps of locations where COVID-19 cases have been confirmed, agencies are taking steps to ensure that officers are made aware of potential virus exposure risks in the field.

-- Agencies are gathering data to support desired scheduling and patrol coverage.  Reports of how many officers are out sick, how many have been exposed to the virus and/or are in quarantine, and how many are able to return to the workforce are used to ensure that departments have adequate personnel for each shift. Agencies are adjusting the hours of specialty units to mirror calls-for-service trends. Departments also are conducting contact-tracing to identify employees who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.

-- Looking ahead, agencies anticipate that greater data-sharing and collaboration with the courts and jails will be required.  Early on, there was a focus on minimizing new arrests, and courts and jail officials worked to reduce jail populations. As the pandemic begins to subside, agencies will need to rearrest individuals or reopen cases, and they anticipate that additional communication and reporting on these cases will be required.



Fayetteville, NC Assistant Chief James Nolette:

We’re Analyzing Which Types of Calls Are Related to COVID

We’ve continued our weekly Compstat process on Zoom. We’ve actually been able to include more people, around 50 to 60, because they can tune in from a distance. More people are showing up than when it was in person, because of the technology. 

During Compstat, we’ve been tracking COVID-19 related calls for service with a specific code. This includes things like enforcing curfew restrictions in our jurisdiction. We can pull this data out of our system to see what types of crime are related to COVID-19, and what shifts are experiencing a higher volume of these calls.

We can also look at COVID-19 call locations to see if a specific business is receiving a high number of complaints, and take action to call the owners of a business to see why we are being sent to this location over and over again. 


NYPD Chief of Department Terry Monahan:

Our Expectations Haven’t Changed About Arresting Offenders

Compstat today is completely different. We are doing it via teleconference, and we limit who can participate. Before, we had conversations with every unit. Now we limit conversations to Commanding Officers, so the questioning is much more defined.  We cut Compstat from 3 hours to 1 hour, strictly focused on violence. We don’t have time to touch other crimes at this point.

I don’t know when we will be in the same room with everyone again, so we are constantly looking to improve our use of technology and our process.

Our expectations during Compstat are the same: we will continue doing our job. We expect personnel to be able to make arrests. We will continue to make arrests even if the prosecutors can’t prosecute them. Even if other parts of the system can’t function the way they should, we will still do our part and perform as we should.



Fairfax County, VA Major Tonny Kim, COVID-19 Emergency Bureau Commander:

We Created a COVID-19 Emergency Bureau to Track Staffing and Crime

The COVID-19 Emergency Bureau was established during the pandemic. The Bureau provides Compstat reports on department staffing, including officers teleworking, quarantined, on administrative leave, injury leave, or sick leave.  It also provides COVID-19-specific information on calls for service, such as disorderly conduct, domestic disputes, domestic violence, emotionally disturbed persons, and suicide threats.

Our reporting is compiled daily, and we also have a weekly analysis to track changes over time. We’ve noticed a spike in burglaries.


Seattle Police Chief Strategy Officer Chris Fisher:

We’ve Found More than 1,000 Cases of Unemployment Fraud

We’ve seen a large spike in commercial burglary and domestic violence cases, and we’ve been spending more time getting granular on our analysis of these cases, such as looking at the types of locations, or trends in how burglars are getting in and out of buildings. Going in-depth isn’t new for us, but we have been focusing on these specific offenses.

We’ve also been pushing out more information through phone calls with stakeholder groups, and updating them on the trends we are seeing, in addition to our usual community-facing reporting.

We had over 1,000 fraud cases of people claiming unemployment for other people. This has been a large work burden on our Records Department.

We’ve been actively tracking the queue on how fast Records staff are approving all of these manual reports.


Wilmington, DE Chief Chief Robert Tracy:

Our Calls for Service Are Not Down, Especially for Gunfire

We don’t have the luxury of hunkering down and waiting to restart once the pandemic is over. We need to stay regimented and disciplined. For many cities, calls for service are down. For us, that is not the case.

Our city is covered by ShotSpotter, and we’ve seen a 100% increase in gunfire alerts, and a 70% increase in calls for service for gunfire. We are arresting more juveniles with guns so far in 2020 than in all of 2019.



Fayetteville, NC Assistant Chief James Nolette:

For the First Time, We Are Collecting Medical Data

We’ve always prided ourselves on data collection. However, because dispatching EMTs is a county function in our area, we hadn’t previously collected medical data.

But early on with COVID, our communications leader implemented a set of questions for every call for service, such as “Have you been in contact with anyone who had COVID-19?” and “Have you experienced any symptoms?”

This information remains internal and is not shared with the public, but it is used to make sure that officers know what they are walking into, and have as much information as possible to protect their safety and health on scene.


Fairfax County, VA Chief Edwin Roessler:

Heat-Mapping the Spread of COVID-19

We have access to a heat map of addresses where COVID-19 cases exist. The map includes case locations, not the names and information of individuals involved. This map enables us to see whether there’s been a confirmed case of COVID-19 at a call location where an officer is dispatched.



Fairfax County, VA Chief Edwin Roessler:

We Use Data to Adjust Our Specialty Units’ Hours

We changed our lines of business immediately, based on data. We have 52 School Resource Officers, who we repurposed to a 24/7 community reporting system. This system had been in place for 15 years, but was staffed by people on light duty. Now, for many minor crimes we can upload photos and videos from victims or take interviews without sending an officer to the scene. This applies to 40% of our calls for service.

For other situations, we used data on the frequency of call types at different times of day to adjust the core hours of our specialty teams. SWAT officers have a higher level of training, and we are dispatching these officers to calls for service where violent crimes may be involved.

After seeing an uptick in emotionally disturbed person calls, we made our Crisis Intervention/Officer Safety Unit full-time.

For calls with a biohazard and DOAs, we have been sending an Infectious Disease Response team and limiting the number of officers exposed. We can dispatch one person with PPE who can work from the scene with detectives and others to see if foul play is involved.  


Wilmington, DE Chief Chief Robert Tracy:

City Hall Appreciates the Data We Provide about Staffing

During the pandemic, we’ve had 25% to 30% of our department tested, quarantined, and isolated. We gather this information and report on it daily, sometimes hourly, using a spreadsheet. We track officers who go out sick, and who they have been in contact with. This includes information such as when an officer first encountered COVID-19, when they first showed symptoms, and how many days they will be off. We’re also tracking PPE supplies and burn-usage on a daily basis. We do this to make sure we have enough coverage and are serving the public the right way.

This was difficult to manage in the beginning, because COVID-19 test results were not coming back quickly. If an officer has symptoms, we have to isolate the officer and anyone the officer was in contact with on the shift. Anxiety has been relieved now that test results are coming back faster. Ultimately, we’ve been very fortunate that everyone has come back to work.

We are transparent about our staffing models to City Hall, and they’ve been very receptive. They even replicated our reporting process in other parts of the city.


Seattle Police Chief Strategy Officer Chris Fisher:

If There’s Another COVID Wave in the Fall, We Intend to Have the Data to Stay Operational

Early on, we established day-by-day tracking of who was exposed to COVID-19, who is out sick, who is quarantining, how many people are working from home or on scheduled leave, and our PPE supply levels.

We were able to put all of this information into an internal dashboard to track trends in exposure, to understand staffing levels, and to see if we’re getting close to a point where we’ll have a watch, squad or precinct out. So far, we’ve been able to keep things under control.

We’re working on our own contact tracing effort. If there is another wave in the fall, rather than going into the lockdown we went into this time, we want to keep our department operational. Contact tracing will tell us who an officer has been in contact with when they report symptoms or have had an exposure.



NYPD Chief of Department Terry Monahan:

We’re Tracking Arrested Persons Who Are Released Because of COVID

We’ve had to parse COVID-19 related activities from everything else we do, and report this information to our City Council. For example, the Council has been looking for numbers on COVID-19 arrests, meaning anything related to the outbreak, or assaults where the word “COVID” was used. We’ve also been asked to keep track of summonses we issued through the Governor and Mayor’s Executive Orders.

Nearly 3,000 people have been released from Rikers Island. We have to track to see how many have been rearrested following these releases. We also are tracking “probable cause” cases where we made an arrest but released people. We need to follow through once the pandemic is over. I’m talking about individuals we have arrested several times for burglaries.

When the Brooklyn Court decides to move forward, we have to track these individuals, rearrest them, and bring them back in.


Seattle Police Chief Strategy Officer Chris Fisher:

We’ll Need to Work More Closely with the Courts and Jails

We’ll need to have better dialogue with the jails and courts about what’s happening with cases that were delayed or where people were released. We’ve been tracking this information manually, and understanding what is happening in these cases is important to the Chief, to the community, and to officers. We will need to better understand the back end of the justice system from a reporting standpoint. 


The PERF Daily COVID-19 Report is part of the Critical Issues in Policing project, supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.


PERF also is grateful to the Howard G. Buffett Foundation for supporting PERF’s COVID-19 work.

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