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How police technologies can be used to assist COVID-19 curfew enforcement

As agencies suffer from diminished personnel numbers, technology can help enforce the actions needed to ‘flatten the curve’


Police officers prepare a drone to find residents who fail to comply with the stay-at-home order implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic in Szolnok, Hungary, Monday, April 13, 2020.

Janos Meszaros/MTI via AP

The majority of Americans are currently under lockdown to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Unfortunately, enforcing stay-at-home orders is being left to law enforcement – which, like many other organizations, is suffering from diminished personnel numbers as officers are both quarantined and test positive for COVID-19.

To assist with operations, here are some ideas for how agencies can use existing equipment to help track and enforce the actions needed to “flatten the curve.”

Video surveillance and drones

If you already have cameras installed or have a drone program, they can be used to watch for gatherings that may need to be broken up. Everyone must have seen the articles about teens who are ignoring the rules to hold “virus parties.” And in fact, many have been infected and brought the virus home to their families. This article pointed out that adults might not be that smart about social distancing either. Some drones have speakers that can be used to issue instructions to groups of people asking them to disperse.

Similarly, reports of larger gatherings might be a reason to get your rotary or fixed-wing assets into the air to monitor the situation.

Automated License Plate Readers

Do a handful of vehicles show up in many locations every day? Perhaps you are noticing one vehicle that seems to show up at documented virus hot spots. The vehicle could belong to a delivery service or you might just have a silent spreader distributing the coronavirus. Analyzing the data from your ALPR and matching it to hospital admissions may help give insight into how the virus is being spread in your jurisdiction.

Are specific neighborhoods or cities under lockdown? If so, ALPR can be used to drive checkpoints to prevent those residents from traveling outside the quarantined area. And if cars are found where they shouldn’t be, you have the documentation to prove why you took action.

Ring doorbell partnership

Similar to the use of video surveillance, combining Ring video with service calls can be used to watch for neighborhood gatherings that might be spreading the virus. And even after the virus itself is no longer a danger, crime could be up due to the number of people out of work. According to a study of 1 million laid-off Norwegians over 15 years, out-of-work people commit 60% more property crimes and have 20% more criminal charges in the year after losing work.

CAD/RMS analysis

Applying big data analysis of CAD/RMS (computer-aided dispatch/records management systems) combined with hospital admissions, ALPR input and other data can help local policymakers understand how and why the infection is spreading.

Many systems already have built-in heat mapping analysis that will flag the brass that more resources may be needed before a situation can get out of hand.

Traffic counters and speed cameras

With so many people at home, the California Highway Patrol is seeing drivers traveling over 100 mph on nearly empty highways – even in notoriously gridlocked Los Angeles. Compared to lower speed fender benders, high-speed crashes can lead to rollovers and a need for more ambulances due to the severity of injuries.

Again, this is something that you need to get a handle on before it becomes a trend and you can do this by deploying automated speed control assets to help map hotspots before sending officers with LIDAR units for enforcement.

What tips and tricks do you have that your agency is putting to use? Share in the comments box below.

Ron LaPedis is an NRA-certified Chief Range Safety Officer, NRA, USCCA and California DOJ-certified instructor, is a uniformed first responder, and frequently writes and speaks on law enforcement, business continuity, cybersecurity, physical security and public/private partnerships.

He has been recognized as a Fellow of the Business Continuity Institute (FBCI), a Distinguished Fellow of the Ponemon Institute, Master Business Continuity Professional (MBCP), and a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Contact Ron LaPedis