March 24, 2020


PERF’s COVID-19 coronavirus resources, including past editions of the Daily COVID-19 Report, are available at


Addressing officer safety concerns

Seattle Chief Carmen Best shared information about how the Seattle Police Department is protecting its employees:

Our highest priority has been, and remains, minimizing the risk to the safety of our employees. We cannot effectively provide public safety if too many of our people have to isolate.

The Governor and the Mayor issued emergency orders on February 29th. Our Continuity of Operations Plan was designed for a number of natural disasters but not a prolonged pandemic, so we are amending as we go. We initiated a series of actions to protect the safety of our first responders and their families.

1. Working with our medical experts and partners at the Seattle Fire Department, we certified our SPD EMTs and SFD Medics to administer the testing procedures for COVID-19 in our own First Responder testing site. We also worked with our local testing site to get priority for completing these tests. This has been essential in reassuring employees when there has been a presumed/confirmed exposure and getting officers back into service. 

2. Our new Wellness Services Unit, working with the City, has set up First Responder housing options for those who need to isolate for any reason – confirmed exposure, pending test, at-risk person at home, and COVID-like symptoms but no test.

3. The Wellness Services Unit, working with our Police Foundation, is putting together care packages and food delivery, both for the first responders on isolation/quarantine and their families.


Metropolitan Nashville Chief of Police Steve Anderson sent us an excellent video that he produced for his officers.

The video features Dr. Corey Slovis, M.D., Chairman of Emergency Medicine at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Dr. Slovis went to Nashville Police HQ to answer police-specific questions about COVID risks and precautions. In the video, Dr. Slovis provides clear answers to the following questions:

  • What is your advice for Nashville police officers who must necessarily have continuing contact with each other and members of the public
  • What symptoms should officers watch for concerning persons with whom they interact?
  • Are there special considerations for an officer when making a physical arrest?
  • What advice do you have for officers who must enter a personal residence while carrying out their duties?
  • For officers personally, if they are not feeling well, what symptoms should cause heightened concern, and what actions should they take?


Providing guidance on critical decision-making

The Burlington, NC Police Department created a COVID-19 version of PERF’s Critical Decision-Making Model to guide officers' response during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Critical Decision-Making Model is part of PERF’s ICAT training program. This training bulletin, excerpted below, was developed by Burlington Lieutenant Shelly Katkowski, who is currently a PERF fellow.

Step 1 – Collect Information

Telecommunicators are required to ask callers questions regarding their health prior to dispatching officers to residents. In addition, telecommunicators should ask residents to come outside to meet the officers if feasible.

In addition, the County Health Department will soon be sharing locations in which confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been detected. This information will be placed into the CAD system and shared with officers.

Officers should ask additional questions prior to arriving if they are uncertain or unclear about the situation. Once on scene, officers should continue to gather information from other people on scene to determine potential risks. 

Step 2 – Assess the Situation, Threats, and Risks

Evaluate the information you have received. Ask yourself, “Do I need to respond to this call? If so, can I handle the call from a safe distance? If the person is not outside, do I need to go inside the residence, or can I call the person(s) out to me?” If upon arrival you observe a person with symptoms like COVID-19, ask yourself, “Do I have time to put on my PPE?” Contact additional resources such as your supervisor if needed.

Step 3 – Consider Police Powers and Agency Policy

Considering the current conditions, this step regarding officers’ duties should be drastically different from standard operating procedures. Officers should not be placing themselves or others at risk to make arrests for low-level crimes or misdemeanors.

When conducting traffic stops, consider the impact that issuing a ticket could have on a person who lost their job and may not get a check for months. Always remember, “WHAT’S IMPORTANT NOW?”

Step 4 – Identify Options and Determine the Best Course of Action

Officers should narrow their options compared to how they would typically respond to a situation For example:

  • Don’t walk blindly into a situation.
  • When safe to do so, conduct police operations with suspects or complainants from 6 feet away.
  • Do not enter a residence without obtaining health information regarding the occupants, and make all attempts to conduct business outside. If you must enter a house, wear your PPE.
  • When dealing with a person who has symptoms or has tested positive for COVID-19, toss them a mask to wear over their mouth and nose.

Step 5 – Act, Review, and Re-assess

Once officers decide to act, it is extremely important to evaluate this action. This is a very difficult time in the policing industry, and officers need to learn what works and what does not. This information needs to be shared throughout the agency.


Changes to training programs

Thanks to everyone who responded to yesterday’s “Question of the Day” about changes to recruit training. 

The Camden County, NJ Police Department sent its academy class home and is now instructing the recruits online. The New Jersey State Police academy and several county academies have closed down until April 6th.

The NYPD graduated its recruit class a week early and postponed its next recruit class, which was scheduled to begin April 6th.

The Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission has closed its statewide academy for 30 days.

The South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy is closed and has suspended all classes until March 27th.

In Washington, D.C., the Metropolitan Police Department is continuing its recruit training, but it is using larger classrooms and multiple buildings to keep recruits as separated as possible.

And the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center has suspended operations. Students have been sent home, and instructors are working remotely.


Question of the Day

Today’s Question of the Day: What impact has the COVID-19 outbreak had on crime in your jurisdiction? Click here to respond, and we’ll highlight some of the replies tomorrow.



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

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