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Reader poll: 57% do not believe curfews should be enacted to battle COVID-19

Over the past several weeks, we asked our audience a series of questions about the COVID-19 pandemic


This information comes from recent Police1 polls. Polls are regularly updated on the P1 homepage and open to all P1 readers. Make your voice heard HERE in our latest poll.

From staffing issues in police departments to an influx of speeders on empty roads, the COVID-19 crisis is impacting law enforcement in a staggering amount of ways.

Over the past several weeks, we asked our audience a series of questions about the pandemic, including what their biggest fears are, if arresting those who violate health orders is warranted, and whether retired cops are willing to return to the frontlines to ease the staffing burden.

When we asked our audience what they were most concerned about, top of mind for officers was family safety (27%), the lack of PPE (14%) and being infected (18%). Another top concern was potential civil unrest (16%) during the pandemic. Interestingly, this poll was closed long before the US saw an increase in protests – some of which have included armed activists – as states extended their lockdown orders.

A potential solution for inadequate staffing is bringing retired cops back to the force, which some PDs are already working on. According to our poll results, retired LEOs are more than willing to step in to help: nearly 60% said they would serve to fill critical needs.

But is it a good idea? Some commenters weren’t so sure:

“Wouldn’t many retirees, by definition, be more likely to contract and suffer the major symptoms if exposed? Not a good idea to put this population at risk,” Howard Kutzler wrote.

Social distancing enforcement has been a controversial issue since the beginning of this crisis, with questions of how far the government should go to curb the spread of the disease, as well as what role law enforcement officers should play in enforcement. As evidenced in the results of our two questions regarding these issues, our audience is sharply divided. Fifty-seven percent do not believe curfews should be enacted to battle the virus, and 50% think a mom in Idaho who was taken into custody for protesting the closure of a children’s playground should not have been arrested.

“No [curfews]! LEOs don’t need to be coming into contact with more of the public than they have to,” Karen Miller wrote.

“It seems as if each government entity makes up what is considered essential and non-essential with no real logical and articulable reason for these rules and orders in a lot of cases,” WASO10-10 wrote about the Idaho arrest. “It puts the police in a bad situation as they are expected to enforce these rules and orders. I think it would have been a great help if US Attorney General Barr had sent out an advisory to all governors, state attorney generals and law enforcement of what DOJ believed was constitutional and what was unconstitutional.”

“I’m not even sure why this is a debate,” Joe Hoffman said of the arrest. “It’s a lawful arrest all day long. The city can close its own park or portions of it for whatever reason it chooses to do so. When this idiot went to the playground with the full knowledge that it was closed, she was trespassing. She was given numerous opportunities to leave without incident, yet she refused to do so, even challenging the officer to arrest her.”

“Discretion is key here. Unfortunately, the officers were put in a bad situation by their command personnel who should have made it clear that voluntary compliance was the goal and if that wasn’t possible, a citation should be written. Custodial arrests should be avoided since they would subject the officer to an unnecessary confrontation that would probably get them sued with NO SUPPORT from any politician and/or the officer gets injured,” Dale402 said. “After all, some of the governors in this nation are releasing murderers (Illinois has released seven so far) because of the virus and then we’re going to put people in jail for this? Why bother? If the idiot tears up the ticket, so be it - the fine will still stand unless appealed in court.”

We’ve also started to see reports of how the outbreak has impacted crime, with some cities seeing a decrease and others seeing the opposite. On a more granular level, one big issue that has been in the news lately are the numerous reports of an increase in speeders on empty roads, and a whopping 72% of our readers have seen this problem in their jurisdictions.

What are your top concerns as the crisis enters a new month? Have they changed since the early days of the pandemic? How is your agency enforcing social distancing measures? What about traffic enforcement? Have you seen a change in crime levels? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Cole Zercoe previously served as Senior Associate Editor of Lexipol’s and His award-winning features focus on the complexity of policing in the modern world.

Contact Cole Zercoe