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Police Responses to Covid-19

Police responses to Covid-19 should focus on community safety and reducing arrests.

Last Updated: December 13, 2021
Published: March 27, 2020

As communit­ies across the coun­try are strug­gling to contain the Covid-19 outbreak, police depart­ments are being asked to rise to the chal­lenge of help­ing to promote community health and safety while main­tain­ing law and order. As part of these efforts, police depart­ments and local prosec­utors are making needed policy changes to reduce the number of people who become involved with the crim­inal justice system. For detailed inform­a­tion about police depart­ment reac­tions to the Covid-19 pandemic, see this tracker from the COVID19 Poli­cing Project.

Arrests/Altern­at­ives to Arrest

Bren­nan Center Recom­mend­a­tions: Police should issue warn­ings whenever possible. In the case of more severe infrac­tions, police should issue a summons or a ticket in lieu of making an arrest absent an imme­di­ate threat to public safety.

  • The Police Depart­ment of the San Fran­cisco Bay Area has taken an “educa­tion over enforce­ment” approach, prefer­ring to warn people rather than to arrest them.
  • In Chicago, the police depart­ment direc­ted officers that certain low-level and nonvi­ol­ent crimes can be handled via cita­tion and misde­meanor summons as opposed to phys­ical arrest.
  • Phil­adelphia and Chicago are some of larger cities where park­ing offi­cials will not issue tick­ets unless there’s a public safety risk, such as a blocked fire hydrant or inter­sec­tion.
  • Fort Worth, Denver, and Phil­adelphia are some of the cities where police are redu­cing arrests for low-level crimes, such as burg­lar­ies and drug offenses. Suspects are being released with a warrant order­ing them to return for processing once the crisis is over.
  • In Illinois, Rock­ford police officers were told to issue a “notice to appear” and not perform a custodial arrest for misde­meanor crimes.
  • In Montana, Gallatin County Sher­iff Brian Gootkin has asked local law enforce­ment to cite-and-release indi­vidu­als for nonvi­ol­ent misde­mean­ors to prevent the entrance of Covid-19 into the jails.
  • Nashville Police Officers were asked to maxim­ize their discre­tion to use cite-and-release instead of arrest­ing indi­vidu­als for misde­meanor offenses. 
  • The DC Police Depart­ment has expan­ded the types of illegal activ­it­ies that qual­ify for cita­tions instead of arrests. 
  • Dane County Sher­iff David Mahoney is encour­aging other sher­iffs to use elec­tronic monit­or­ing and early release to decrease jail popu­la­tions in response to Covid-19. He is also encour­aging local law enforce­ment part­ners to look for altern­at­ives to incar­cer­a­tion, includ­ing cite-and-release.
  • Through law enforce­ment collab­or­a­tion, spear­headed by Sher­iff Peter Koutoujian, the Middle­sex County, MA jail popu­la­tion has dropped by 100 indi­vidu­als, a 15 percent decline. They achieved this by review­ing bail and increas­ing elec­tronic monit­or­ing. 
  • The Washtenaw County Jail in Washtenaw County, Michigan is oper­at­ing at below half of its capa­city, after the sher­iff’s office insti­tuted meas­ures to limit the spread of Covid-19. These proto­cols are in line with Gov. Whit­mer’s exec­ut­ive order to protect jail popu­la­tion. The sher­iff’s office also incor­por­ated feed­back from a local advocacy group. 
  • Accord­ing to the Kentucky Admin­is­trat­ive Office of the Courts, arrests across Kentucky have dropped from 700 to 150 arrests a day, as police officers change arrest prac­tices in response to Covid-19.
  • The Lincoln County, Oregon Sher­iff’s Office in reduced their county jail popu­la­tion to 83 people by redu­cing arrests. Since March 14, the Sher­iff’s office has only admit­ted people who were arres­ted for “seri­ous crimes’ or people who “pose an extreme risk to the community."
  • As of April 20, nearly half of those arres­ted by Santa Barbara County Sher­iff’s office since an April 6 statewide emer­gency order (which sets a bail amount of $0 for all felon­ies and misde­mean­ors, and even some proba­tion viol­a­tions, with the excep­tion of “seri­ous” crimes) have been released with cita­tions.
  • On April 21, San Marcos became the first city in Texas to adopt a cite-and-release policy in the form of a law for certain low-level offenses.
  • Middle­sex, MA Sher­iff Peter J. Koutoujian announced that, as of May 5, the popu­la­tion under super­vi­sion by the Middle­sex County Sher­iff’s Office has dropped to below 600 indi­vidu­als – a nearly 25 percent drop since mid-March. The Sher­iff attrib­uted the decline to an increase in elec­tronic monit­or­ing and collab­or­a­tion with the District Attor­ney on bail reviews. 
  • Despite the contin­ued risk of Covid-19, in response to poten­tial gun viol­ence over the week­end of July 4, Chicago Police Super­in­tend­ent David Brown announced on June 30 that Chicago police officers would round up and mass arrest teen­agers hanging around “drug corners.” An addi­tional 1,200 officers were to be deployed to the lowest-income sections of the city to carry out these arrests.
  • In Milwau­kee, 78% of resid­ents arres­ted for viol­at­ing Milwau­kee’s stay-at-home order were black, despite the fact that only 39% of the city’s resid­ents are black. Black and Latinx popu­la­tions in Milwau­kee have also been hit hard­est by Covid-19, lead­ing offi­cials and activ­ists to ques­tion the health bene­fits of arrest­ing black and Latinx people dispro­por­tion­ately.
  • In response to the pandemic, New Jersey state troop­ers have been instruc­ted to issue summons for minor infrac­tions, rather than take people into custody.
  • At the Dane County Sher­iff’s Office in Wiscon­sin, sher­iff Dane Mahoney told his officers to “look for every oppor­tun­ity to not bring people to jail” as an attempt to limit the chance of community spread through the local jail.
  • On Febru­ary 3, San Bern­ardino Chief of Police Eric McBride released a video on the depart­ment’s public Face­book page, criti­ciz­ing “decrim­in­al­iz­a­tion campaigns” and “early release policies” that have been imple­men­ted to saved lives of incar­cer­ated people, partic­u­larly those being held pretrial, during the pandemic. The post­ing reflects the still-pervas­ive mind­set among police depart­ments that neither Covid-19, nor the ongo­ing social and polit­ical move­ments against over­crim­in­al­iz­a­tion/police target­ing of Black communit­ies, should change their policies or prac­tices.
  • On March 14, offi­cials in police depart­ments around San Mateo County, Cali­for­nia explained how they have been facil­it­at­ing Covid-19 guidelines through­out the county during the pandemic. The depart­ments have focused on educa­tion rather than enforce­ment, which they found to be an effect­ive method for redu­cing push­back from community members.
  • As of April 3, some police depart­ments in Andro­scog­gin, Oxford and Frank­lin counties in Maine have contin­ued to limit arrests in order to limit the jail popu­la­tion during the pandemic, but others are begin­ning to return to their pre-pandemic proto­cols.
  • On April 6, Maine state police announced that they will no longer be limit­ing enforce­ment of minor traffic viol­a­tions in response to the pandemic. The decision comes after the depart­ment received public concerns about driv­ing safety.
  • On Octo­ber 13, Austin’s Office of Police Over­sight released a new report instruct­ing the Austin Police Depart­ment to rewrite its policies concern­ing use of force to emphas­ize de-escal­a­tion.

Bren­nan Center Recom­mend­a­tion: Planned, or sched­uled, arrests should be delayed if at all possible unless the person to be arres­ted poses an imme­di­ate threat to public safety.

  • Arizon­a’s Tucson police officers were ordered to cite and release as frequently as possible, use the long-form process for nonvi­ol­ent felon­ies, and not serve misde­meanor warrants unless for public safety reas­ons, such as domestic abuse.
  • Commis­sioner Dani­elle Outlaw of the Phil­adelphia Police Depart­ment informed command­ers that officers are to delay arrests in crimes ranging from narcot­ics to theft to pros­ti­tu­tion.  
  • To decrease the jail popu­la­tion, the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., police depart­ment’s use of cita­tion-and- release has been expan­ded to a number of other crimes.  
  • The DeKalb County Marshal’s Office in Atlanta is follow­ing its continu­ity of oper­a­tions plan developed years ago for a pandemic. On March 17, the marshal ordered staff to suspend all evic­tions and noncrit­ical field oper­a­tions, such as civil process deliv­ery and warrant appre­hen­sions.
  • Gallatin County Sher­iff Brian Gootkin has asked local law enforce­ment to cite-and-release indi­vidu­als for nonvi­ol­ent misde­mean­ors instead of bring­ing them to the jails to prevent the entrance of Covid-19 into the jails.
  • Steve Conrad has said the LMPD will stop respond­ing in-person to non-viol­ent crim­inal incid­ents which require a police report, and instead will take a police report over the phone to better protect its officers and the community.
  • On March 31, the Auburn police chief announced that he would be lift­ing Covid-related book­ing restric­tions start­ing April 1. 
  • As of April 11, the Daviess County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment in Kentucky had resumed serving warrants after paus­ing the prac­tice in response to Covid-19 in order to limit jail popu­la­tions.
  • On Novem­ber 1, the Little Rock Police Depart­ment launched an online report­ing system for low levels of crime to allow officers to focus on emer­gen­cies and crime preven­tion during the pandemic. The system lets users report 13 types of crime, includ­ing break­ing or enter­ing, crim­inal mischief, and theft.

Bren­nan Center Recom­mend­a­tion: Police should focus their efforts on community and prob­lem-solv­ing: for example, ensur­ing that the elderly and infirm are safe and work­ing to help ensure that chil­dren are safe while school is not in session.

  • In Los Angeles, the police depart­ment is deploy­ing half of the detect­ives to “high-visib­il­ity patrols” aimed at reas­sur­ing an anxious public as some busi­nesses close and grocery stores attract long lines.
  • The Fair­field Police Depart­ment in Fair­field, Connecti­cut, launched a social media campaign called “Law and Order to Go,” which high­lights and encour­ages police to order lunch for curb­side pickup from Fair­field restaur­ants, promot­ing small busi­nesses that are still open and offer­ing deliv­ery.  
  • Since Friday, March 20, the Fort Worth Police Officers Asso­ci­ation has been support­ing local busi­nesses by purchas­ing hundreds of bulk meals daily for police officers in every patrol divi­sion.
  • Bridge­port police are now asking for nonvi­ol­ent, traffic, and civil reports to be made online to reduce law enforce­ment inter­ac­tion so that police can shift focus to assaults and theft in busi­nesses as panic-buying increases.
  • On April 9, San Fran­cisco Mayor London Breed and District Attor­ney Chesa Boudin announced that they’re part­ner­ing with the city’s largest land­lord, Veritas Invest­ments, to provide tempor­ary hous­ing for surviv­ors of domestic viol­ence during the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Cumber­land County Sher­iff Kevin Joyce has lowered the local jail popu­la­tion by 25 percent by releas­ing people who had less than 90 days left in incar­cer­a­tion. 
  • Start­ing April 27, Hous­ton police officers and Harris County Sher­iff’s depu­ties will distrib­ute masks and largely avoid issu­ing fines for people who fail to comply with the order requir­ing resid­ents to cover their faces.
  • When new coronavirus restric­tions went into effect in Octo­ber, New York City police officers issued 62 tick­ets and more than $150,000 in fines during the first week­end of enforce­ment.
  • In Janu­ary 2021, the Pennsylvania State Police announced that they will “distrib­ute flyers contain­ing COVID-19 mitig­a­tion inform­a­tion to trav­el­ers and commer­cial vehicles,” and issue cita­tions on a case-by-case basis to indi­vidu­als viol­at­ing Covid-19 restric­tions.
  • On Janu­ary 1, the city of Dallas released a memor­andum that direc­ted police officer not to be dispatched in certain types of 911 calls like car thefts, crim­inal mischief and child custody disputes. The inten­tion of the direct­ive was to limit Covid-19 expos­ure and make the depart­ment more effi­cient; however, the memor­andum was quickly rescin­ded after it leaked to the public with an unfa­vor­able response.
  • On Febru­ary 18, Chicago mayor Lori Lightfoot faced criti­cism from activ­ists for alloc­at­ing coronavirus relief money toward over­time pay for the city’s police depart­ment. Activ­ists are partic­u­larly angry about this decision because the fund­ing could have been used to subsid­ize hous­ing assist­ance, vaccine distri­bu­tion, and busi­ness support, and the time for which police are being compensated using these funds was for doing work such as well­ness checks, which would have been better suited to other depart­ments like social services.
  • In Flor­ida, an officer was fired for mock­ing a co-work­er’s fear of contract­ing Covid-19 while on the job (as well as phys­ic­ally harass­ing her during the encounter). The incid­ent repres­ents the latest evol­u­tion of certain police officers down­play­ing the pandemic, or ignor­ing their depart­ment’s guid­ance regard­ing social distan­cing and PPE.
  • On March 15, San Juan police began plan­ning to add more police in popu­lar tour­ist areas to address aggress­ive tour­ist beha­vior. Despite pandemic condi­tions, Puerto Rico has seen many U.S. trav­el­ers during its peak tour­ist season.

Train­ing, PPE, and Vaccin­a­tions

Bren­nan Center Recom­mend­a­tion: Police depart­ments should provide their officers and staff with train­ing and appro­pri­ate protect­ive gear, in accord­ance with public health recom­mend­a­tions, when on duty. This also ensures that they minim­ize any health risk to those they inter­act with.

  • The Lyndhurst Police Depart­ment in New Jersey said that officers who have to make in-person visits will keep a “safe distance” and refrain from shak­ing hands.
  • The Los Angeles Police Depart­ment has stated that all patrol officers and officers likely to come into contact with the virus have been issued a kit consist­ing of multiple sets of gloves, a bacteria protec­tion mask, and goggles.  
  • The Miami Police Depart­ment set up screen­ing stations at all its police districts. Employ­ees must pass through the screen­ing stations before coming to work, and employ­ees are issued a colored wrist­band to show that they’ve been cleared.  
  • The Chicago Police Depart­ment is keep­ing its medical office open 24 hours a day, rather than the usual 8 hours a day, to better track the health of its officers.  
  • Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best worked with medical experts and part­ners at the Seattle Fire Depart­ment to certify their EMTs and medics to admin­is­ter the test­ing proced­ures for Covid-19 in their own Seattle First Respon­der test­ing site. This was in response to protect­ing its employ­ees who constantly risk expos­ure while putting public safety first in their jobs. It is also prevent­at­ive, as they would find anyone affected quickly and remove them from active duty to stop spread­ing of the virus.
  • Despite civil­ians donat­ing hundreds of hand­made masks in response to Chicago PD’s complaints about PPE short­ages, police officers in Chicago (as well as across the coun­try) have been seen without masks consist­ently for the first few weeks of June, even in places where offi­cials have mandated they be worn.
  • Many police officers in Phil­adelphia are refus­ing to wear masks, even after Police Commis­sioner Dani­elle Outlaw issued multiple direct­ives to encour­age mask wear­ing across ranks. The city govern­ment has not made any moves to punish those who refuse to wear PPE.
  • The Chicago Police Depart­ment has resumed its recruit train­ing as of July 6. The Depart­ment will insti­tute temper­at­ure checks and provide hand sanit­izer when train­ees enter, mandate mask and glove use, and incor­por­ate virtual learn­ing to limit contact.
  • In July, a Chicago Police Depart­ment lieu­ten­ant argued that masks impede the police’s abil­ity to do their job, and that super­visors within the depart­ment have not and will not enforce mask mandates for officers of the law.
  • By August, police officers in cities across the coun­try were regu­larly docu­mented without masks on, both on regu­lar patrols and at protests.
  • In Flor­ida, Sher­iff Billy Woods announced in August that his depu­ties would not permit­ted to wear masks on duty, unless they were placed in schools, hospit­als, the jail, or the local court­house. In the same announce­ment, he declared that anyone who walks into the sher­iff’s office wear­ing a mask would be required to remove it, contrary to any orders mandat­ing mask wear­ing in public.
  • In Austin, Texas, police officers are in charge of enfor­cing mask mandates and educat­ing the public, but numer­ous complaints were lodged during the summer and fall of 2020 against officers who refused to wear masks while inter­act­ing with the public.
  • A national survey of first respon­ders found that while a major­ity of public safety person­nel were required to wear masks on duty, roughly a third of respond­ents were not provided masks by their depart­ments. Little over 40 percent of respond­ents felt that masks were an effect­ive tool for redu­cing the spread of Covid-19. 
  • Despite being required to wear masks since April, a number of Capitol Police officers were docu­mented mask­less or improp­erly wear­ing face cover­ings during the insur­rec­tion on Janu­ary 6th. During the incid­ent, many rioters and Repub­lican lawmakers refused to wear masks, expos­ing all people inside the Capitol complex to a super-spreader event.
  • In the weeks after the Janu­ary 6 insur­rec­tion at the Capitol Complex, over three dozen Capitol Police officers tested posit­ive for Covid-19. By Janu­ary 24, 38 officers had repor­ted a posit­ive Covid-19 test, likely caused by the mass of largely unmasked people invad­ing the Capitol grounds.
  • On March 13, a spokes­per­son for the Lynch­berg, Virginia police depart­ment repor­ted that 43 officers had tested posit­ive for Covid-19 since the begin­ning of the pandemic. Approx­im­ately 1/4 of the depart­ment’s employ­ees have been vaccin­ated so far, and depart­ment offi­cials are encour­aging other officers to take the vaccine.
  • By May 3, three months after Chicago began offer­ing Covid-19 vaccines to police officers, data from the Chicago Police Depart­ment show that only about a quarter of depart­ment employ­ees have gotten at least one shot at a city-run site. This trend follows the expressed interest of city police officers, of which roughly one-third indic­ated in a Janu­ary survey that they were inter­ested in getting vaccin­ated against the coronavirus.
  • In the second week of May, only 28 percent of the Colum­bus Divi­sion of Police’s 1,800 sworn person­nel had received a Covid-19 vaccine, either full or partial.
  • The South Futon Police Depart­ment in Geor­gia repor­ted in mid-May that fewer than 50% of its employ­ees had accep­ted oppor­tun­it­ies to become fully vaccin­ated against Covid-19.
  • By May 19, only 40 percent of the NYPD’s 36,000 officers and 19,000 civil­ian employ­ees had received any dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, an accept­ance rate almost 20 percent less than the percent­age of adults over­all in the city.
  • As of June 7, 2021, accord­ing to data compiled by the Marshall Project, “from mid-2020 to March 2021, the number of people in jails await­ing trial or serving short sentences for minor offenses climbed back up again by more than 70,000, reach­ing nearly 650,000.”
  • Accord­ing to a Cali­for­nia survey taken in June 2021, the Santa Clara County sher­iff’s office has vaccin­ated 66 percent of its employ­ees, the San Jose Police Depart­ment has at least 53 percent of employ­ees vaccin­ated, the Palo Alto Police Depart­ment has at least 58 percent of employ­ees vaccin­ated, and Moun­tain View Police Depart­ment has 73 percent of employ­ees vaccin­ated. In contrast, as of July 8th, 6% of Santa Clara County resid­ents ages 12 and older are fully vaccin­ated. Consid­er­ing that law enforce­ment had early access to the vaccine, their vaccin­a­tion numbers are only some­what encour­aging.
  • As of June 19th, 2021, 52 percent of LAPD officers are partially vaccin­ated, while only about 30% of the Los Angeles Sher­iff’s depart­ment is vaccin­ated.
  • As of June 21st, 2021, Las Vegas PD is requir­ing new hires to have been vaccin­ated against Covid-19, but no mandate yet for those already employed by the depart­ment. Only 39 percent of current employ­ees at the depart­ment are vaccin­ated.
  • As of June 21st, 2021, only 36 percent Atlanta police officers have received their Covid-19 vaccin­a­tions.
  • As of June 21st, 2021, Ohio’s Colum­bus divi­sion, which is also the largest force in the state, has only 28 percent of its officers vaccin­ated against Covid-19.
  • On August 18, the NYPD announced that it will require all police officers to either get vaccin­ated or wear a mask while on duty and submit to regu­lar test­ing. A city­wide order will go into effect on Septem­ber 13, requir­ing similar meas­ures for all city employ­ees (includ­ing police officers).
  • On Septem­ber 13th, a group of employ­ees from the Los Angeles Police Depart­ment filed a federal lawsuit over the city’s vaccin­a­tion require­ment, claim­ing that it viol­ates their consti­tu­tional rights. A few days later, data was released show­ing that thou­sands of depart­ment employ­ees are pursu­ing medical and reli­gious exemp­tions from the order requir­ing city work­ers to get vaccin­ated against Covid-19. 
  • On Septem­ber 14th, New Jersey State Police Super­in­tend­ent Pat Calla­han announced that 22 New Jersey Police officers died of Covid-19 the week before. Despite the rise in cases, the state police unions continue to oppose vaccine require­ments.
  • On Septem­ber 29th, Allegheny County Exec­ut­ive Rich Fitzger­ald announced that full Covid-19 vaccin­a­tions will be required for all employ­ees of the county’s exec­ut­ive branch by Decem­ber 1st. 
  • On Octo­ber 5th, the San Jose Police Depart­ment updated its Covid-19 vaccin­a­tion policy to allow work­ers a one week grace period before being placed on unpaid suspen­sion for not being vaccin­ated. Unvac­cin­ated employ­ees are subject to twice weekly Covid-19 tests and must work staggered hours to mitig­ate poten­tial spread of the coronavirus.
  • On Octo­ber 12, the City of Denver repor­ted that dozens of first respon­ders have quit over the city and county’s vaccine mandates. An addi­tional 30 employ­ees are facing termin­a­tion for not comply­ing with the vaccine require­ment after discip­line hear­ings began this week.
  • On Octo­ber 13, a memo regard­ing the U.S. Capitol Police Depart­ment’s divi­sion respons­ible for protect­ing lawmakers stated that staff must be fully vaccin­ated against Covid-19 by Decem­ber 6. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger stated that fail­ure to be vaccin­ated by the dead­line will result in be reas­sign­ment.
  • On Octo­ber 18, Chicago city offi­cials repor­ted that roughly 35 percent of officers did not report their vaccin­a­tion status by the city’s dead­line on Octo­ber 15. Those 4,5000 officers will be placed on no-pay status and will be required to undergo Covid-19 test­ing twice a week.
  • On Octo­ber 18th, the Wash­ing­ton State Police announced that nearly 95 percent of officers have complied with its vaccin­a­tion policy, while the 5 percent of officer who remain unvac­cin­ated will be placed on unpaid leave. 
  • On Octo­ber 19, the Allegheny County Deputy Sher­iff’s Asso­ci­ation in Pennsylvania filed an unfair labor prac­tice suit against Allegheny County for its Covid-19 vaccine mandate, rather than encour­age officers to comply with the order.
  • On Octo­ber 20, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that all police officers, fire­fight­ers and other muni­cipal work­ers must get vaccin­ated against Covid-19 or be placed on unpaid leave. The mandate has a Novem­ber 1 dead­line for getting the first vaccine dose except for people work­ing on Rikers Island, who will be subject to the mandate on Decem­ber 1. The exten­ded timeline for correc­tions staff on Rikers is due to concerns over exist­ing staff­ing short­ages at the facil­ity.
  • On Octo­ber 10, St. Louis Police County Police officers were ordered to get vaccin­ated against Covid-19 or submit to a weekly test­ing regi­men. The decision came from St. Louis County Police Chief Kenneth Gregory amid a lawsuit chal­len­ging the county’s author­ity to impose the require­ment on officers.
  • On Octo­ber 18, Albuquerque proposed an amend­ment to the city’s emer­gency public health declar­a­tion which would order police officers, fire­men, and other public safety person­nel to get vaccin­ated against Covid-19. The city coun­cil will vote on the meas­ure in mid-Novem­ber.
  • On Octo­ber 21, the Oklahoma Police Depart­ment rescin­ded its mandat­ory vaccin­a­tion policy for new hires in an attempt to increase recruit­ment to the depart­ment.
  • On Octo­ber 23, Gaines­ville city attor­neys attemp­ted to rein­state their vaccine mandate, which had been aban­doned the day before due to pres­sure from Gov. Ron DeSantis. Enforce­ment of the mandate, which was scrapped after a 6–1 vote by the Gaines­ville city commis­sion­ers, incurred 3.5 million dollars in fees from the Flor­ida Depart­ment of Health to Leon County.
  • On Octo­ber 25, Sher­iff Tom Span­gler of Knox County, Tennessee wrote a letter to Pres­id­ent Biden declar­ing that he would not enforce a vaccine mandate for fear of losing the major­ity of his work­force. The letter echoed a similar message from Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, who stated the county would not enforce a vaccine mandate or test­ing require­ments as they would “[add] finan­cial, legal and regu­lat­ory burdens that will ulti­mately impact Knox County taxpay­ers.
  • On Octo­ber 28, a federal judge denied a request from LAPD officers to over­turn the city’s vaccin­a­tion mandate. The applic­a­tion for a tempor­ary restrain­ing order on the mandate claimed that the online portal for request­ing medical and reli­gious exemp­tions “has never worked,” but U.S. District Judge Gary Klaus­ner dismissed the request because all 13 plaintiffs managed to file notices of exemp­tion. 
  • On Novem­ber 4th, the Lancaster City Bureau of Police repor­ted that two officers have been fired for the use and submis­sion of fake Covid-19 vaccin­a­tion cards in an attempt to get around the city’s mask and test­ing require­ments for unvac­cin­ated people.
  • As of Novem­ber 5, Maine’s statewide vaccine mandate contin­ues not to apply to correc­tional work­ers, includ­ing those who provide medical care. The vaccin­a­tion rate in the state correc­tional force lags behind the incar­cer­ated popu­la­tion, with 80% of incar­cer­ated people being vaccin­ated compared to 67% of correc­tions officers.
  • On Novem­ber 14 in San Diego, Ocean­side Police Chief Fred Armijo prom­ised to enforce and prior­it­ize de-escal­a­tion policies in his depart­ment and “hold officers account­able” after meet­ing with local lead­ers to revise the depart­ment’s.
  • On Novem­ber 18, the City of Phoenix announced that it will require Covid-19 vaccin­a­tions for all city work­ers, includ­ing police officers. All 14,000 employ­ees must be vaccin­ated by Janu­ary 18 and those who refuse will be “subject to progress­ive discip­line up to and includ­ing termin­a­tion."
  • On Novem­ber 18, a county circuit judge ruled in favor of Ann Arbor’s require­ment that all city employ­ees, includ­ing police officers, get vaccin­ated against Covid-19. The ruling comes after a lawsuit by the Ann Arbor Police Officers Asso­ci­ation was filed in hopes of halt­ing enforce­ment of the policy.
  • On Novem­ber 23, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan announced that he would not require vaccines for muni­cipal employ­ees, includ­ing police, fire­fight­ers, and other first respon­ders. The city does not share how many people are currently vaccin­ated, but in June, only 39% of Detroit police officers were vaccin­ated.
  • On Novem­ber 26, the St. Paul Police Feder­a­tion filed a suit against the city of St. Paul, hoping to stop the city’s vaccin­a­tion mandate that requires all city employ­ees to be vaccin­ated by the end of the year.
  • On Novem­ber 29, the San Diego City Coun­cil passed an emer­gency Covid-19 vaccine mandate, requir­ing city employ­ees to be fully vaccin­ated by Decem­ber 1 or face termin­a­tion.
  • On Decem­ber 5, San Diego repor­ted that 65% of its officers are vaccin­ated and that roughly 160 officers are facing termin­a­tion follow­ing the City Coun­cil’s 8–1 vote to mandate vaccin­a­tion. Officers now have 30 days to show proof of vaccin­a­tion or request an exemp­tion.
  • On Decem­ber 8, a complaint filed by Massachu­setts state troop­ers regard­ing Governor Charlie Baker’s vaccine mandate was dismissed. An invest­ig­ator from the Depart­ment of Labor Rela­tions concluded that the admin­is­tra­tion did not viol­ate its oblig­a­tion to nego­ti­ate with the State Police Asso­ci­ation of Massachu­setts as the two parties did not reach an agree­ment by the dead­line.

Addi­tional Resources

The Inter­na­tional Asso­ci­ation of Chiefs of Police has put together a cent­ral­ized clear­ing­house of resources related to Covid-19 that is updated constantly. Resources avail­able include fact sheets, organ­iz­a­tional read­i­ness docu­ments, policy consid­er­a­tions, and much more.

The Police Exec­ut­ive Research Forum (PERF) has put together a resources page for law enforce­ment that provides how agen­cies are respond­ing, PERF Daily Covid-19 Reports, PERF public­a­tions on outbreaks, federal and inter­na­tional resources, and officer well­ness resources.