April 16, 2020


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


Israel’s national police force is using technology and large-scale ground operations to ensure that people obey isolation rules.

In today’s Daily COVID-19 report, we begin with an interview that Chuck Wexler conducted last week with Superintendent Micky Rosenfeld, National Spokesman to Foreign Media, Israel Police. 

The interview was conducted on April 8, just as the Passover holiday was beginning and lockdowns were at their strictest level, barring people from leaving their homes at all.

Key Takeaways:

1. Technology:  Israeli police used national databases to identify persons who were outside the country and were required to self-isolate. They are tracking telephones of COVID-positive persons to ensure they are isolated at home. And they are using drones to make visual contact with isolated persons through their apartment windows, so officers do not need to risk making in-person contacts.

2. Large-scale ground operations and pinpoint policing:  Israel Police have visited 76,000 people at their homes to confirm that they are in isolation. And they are carrying out pinpointed operations in neighborhoods where COVID-19 infection rates are high, taking people to hospitals to prevent the spread of the virus.  

Micky Rosenfeld, at left in blue uniform, with a patrol unit last week


Micky Rosenfeld, National Spokesman to Foreign Media, Israel Police 

Israel has one national police force with 30,000 officers. As of now, the whole of the national police force is involved in one major issue: preventing the spread of the coronavirus. We’re working on two different levels.

Number one, police units are mobilized across the country to make sure that areas are secure and people who have COVID-19 are in isolation. Number two, we are speaking with the leaders of all the different communities here in Israel – the Jewish communities, the Muslim communities, and the Christian communities. We want people to stay at home as much as possible.

Using databases from the Ministry of Health, the Israel National Police, and the Border Patrol, we know when people have come into Israel.  By law, anyone who has come back to Israel from abroad has to go through 14 days of isolation. The minute they touch down at Ben Gurion International Airport, they must begin the 14 days of isolation.

Over the past three weeks, the Israel Police have visited 76,000 people in homes, knocked on their doors, and made contact with them in order to confirm that they are in isolation.

We are also using operational intelligence in the same way we use it for terrorism, to track people and make sure they are where they should be at any given time.

For example, this week our special patrol units were tracking telephones of people we have confirmed are COVID-19 positive.

Our units are fully protected with a breathing apparatus, gloves, and a mask, and they carry out pinpointed operations inside neighborhoods where we know there are people who are positive with COVID-19. We are detaining them and taking them to hospital for treatment to prevent the spread of the virus.  

Because of the Jewish Passover festival, which is beginning this evening, we are making extra efforts to make sure that people are staying at home. This is the first time the Israeli government has decided that there would be a shutdown and a lockdown across the country.

People are not allowed to go out of their houses.  You can’t go for a 10-meter jog. You can’t go for a walk to see the next-door neighbors.  For this specific part of the festival, until tomorrow evening, everybody is in lockdown.

The only people you’ll see on the streets, if you walk around with me now on a foot patrol or drive-around, are police officers, who have cordoned off cities and cordoned off neighborhoods. If I were a regular civilian, I could not leave my neighborhood today. You cannot walk out of the neighborhood; there’s a roadblock that cordons off the specific neighborhood.

This decision was made based on what took place during the Jewish festival of Purim several weeks ago. In that holiday, there’s a significant meal that takes place where all the families get together. Unfortunately, that’s when many contracted the COVID-19 virus, directly as a result of families coming together and celebrating together. That is why, now, for Passover, everybody across Israel is only with their close, first family.  For Easter, as well. There’s no differentiation as to the religions and different communities. We have Ramadan coming in a couple weeks as well.

The Temple Mount for the Muslims is closed. The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem is closed. The Western Wall area, closed. These are absolutely essential measures that the Israeli Police are implementing for the safety of the public.

Wexler:  How is that being received?

Micky Rosenfeld: I went on a foot patrol last week with the special patrol units. Once you go inside the neighborhoods, unfortunately, there’s a lot of tension. People gather against you, which we have to deal with immediately. Social distancing, which is being implemented by the Israel Police, is absolutely critical.

Wexler: How are you protecting officers from infecting each other?

Micky Rosenfeld: We realize that if the police get the COVID-19 virus, we won’t be able to function and support the general population. This is critical because there’s only one national police force, and we can’t step aside.

So officers are standing at least 2 meters apart during briefings. When we travel in vehicles, there is a maximum of two people in a vehicle. We’re carrying out operations very carefully. We have two sections of our counter-terrorism unit, which are working completely separately from the other section of the unit. We’ve done that with all of the operational special patrol units.

We have 480 police officers who have been in isolation, either because they’ve been in a place where someone was confirmed to have COVID-19, or they come back from overseas and have to go through a 14-day isolation.

When you walk into a police station, your temperature is taken. Any civilian who wants to come to a police facility has to sign a document saying that he is not infected, and we can check his background. We’re very focused on making sure that our officers are safe.

We’ve had 3 officers test positive for COVID-19. None of our officers, thank God, have passed away.

Wexler:  What’s your big-picture view of all this?

Micky Rosenfeld:  This year is a very significant year in terms of policing and making contacts with the public. The Israeli National Police are now on the front lines, as we always are in dealing with terrorism and criminal issues.  Now we are on the front lines of keeping people safe and implementing the decisions of the government and the Ministry of Health. Our police units are in close contact with all of the different communities to make sure we get the messages out.

The Israeli government, the Ministry of Health, and the Israeli Police are constantly looking at the graphs in order to understand strategically how many people have become ill, over what period of time, and where do we stand.  We’ve been trying to look ahead all the time.  Unfortunately, what we’ve seen, for example, in Europe is that Italy woke up 14 days late. In London, people were still going on the Underground and using the trains, and not realizing that they would become ill as a result. So we are planning ahead, and whatever government decisions will be made as things develop, we’re ready to implement them.

I’d like to add on an example of the thinking process that we have here in Israel. Two weeks ago, thousands of Israelis were stranded overseas when different countries started closing their borders and cancelling all their flights. The first thing Israel did, in coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Israeli Police and intelligence, was that we found out who the Israelis abroad were, where they were, and we tried to get them back as quickly as possible, in order to make sure that they wouldn’t come back sick or even die overseas. I think that is a positive strategy of supporting the public.


Update from Rochester, MN Police Chief Jim Franklin:

“Knowing that so many are home-bound and at risk, Rochester Police Community Service Officers and Cub Foods have partnered to deliver groceries to at-risk/elderly persons’ homes within Rochester. Orders can be placed online through Instacart. Participants select curbside pickup. This initiative is operational Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.”

Rochester Post-Bulletin:  “RPD pairs with grocery store to help with food deliveries


Engaging Your Community During COVID-19

To better understand how agencies are connecting with their communities while following social distancing recommendations, PERF is asking members to please click on this link and complete a brief questionnaire. We may share your responses in an upcoming edition of our PERF Daily COVID-19 Report.


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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