March 20, 2020


PERF/National Police Foundation/Major Cities Chiefs Association webinar

PERF, the National Police Foundation, and the Major Cities Chiefs Association hosted an online briefing on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The presenters were Dr. Marie A. de Perio and Dr. Kyle Moller from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kirkland, WA Chief Cherie Harris, and New Rochelle, NY Deputy Commissioner Robert Gazzola. To view the briefing, click here. To view the CDC presenters’ slides, click here.


Limiting In-Person Police Responses

Police agencies are trying to avoid face-to-face interactions whenever possible to reduce the likelihood that their officers are exposed to the virus. Nashville Chief Steve Anderson issued guidance Wednesday telling officers that, when possible, they should respond by phone instead of in person to non-emergency and non-violent calls where the perpetrator is not present. Calls that may receive this alternative phone response include: 

  • Non-injury minor vehicle crashes that are not blocking a roadway where there is no disturbances between drivers, no driver impairment, and no vehicles that have to be towed;
  • Lost property (wallet, purse, phone, etc.), excluding firearms or narcotics;
  • Identity theft with no physical evidence to collect;
  • Thefts from a publicly accessible space, including shoplifting, and thefts from yards, construction sites, public storage facilities and detached garages where the perpetrator is not present, the loss is less than $5,000, and there is no recoverable evidence at the scene;
  • Thefts FROM vehicles, excluding firearms, where there is no recoverable evidence at the scene;
  • Vandalism or damage to property where the perpetrator is not present and the loss is less than $5,000.


The Wauconda, Illinois Police Department has implemented a similar directive:

Wauconda Police officers will only be responding to high priority/emergency calls. The definition of a high priority/emergency call will include, but are not limited to; motor vehicle crashes, forcible felonies, batteries or domestic disputes (either in progress or where the offender is still on scene), burglaries where evidentiary items need to be collected or the scene needs to be processed, any other violent crime or crime against persons, or where the shift supervisor deems it necessary.


The Green Bay, Wisconsin Police Department modified its policies to allow the following calls to be taken over the phone, though officers still have the discretion to respond in person when they see fit.

  • Retail thefts
  • Accidents involving animals with no road hazard
  • Child custody disputes with no known harm
  • Forgery/uttering complaints (i.e. counterfeit currency)
  • Criminal damage to property with no suspects or after the fact
  • Thefts with no suspects
  • Graffiti
  • Harassing phone calls/texts
  • Noise complaints
  • Found property & civil matters
  • Ordinance violations
  • Repeat runaways when the caller isn’t concerned about foul play
  • Medical calls with no known need for LEO (supervisor discretion)
  • Violation of court order, threats & trespassing when after the fact with no threats
  • Fraud/ID theft


Message from Tucson Chief Chris Magnus to his department

Tucson Chief Chris Magnus shared a video and a Q&A memo he sent his department explaining TPD’s response, addressing potential concerns, and telling employees about some of the changes they might expect moving forward. To view the video, click here. To read the Q&A memo, click here.


Comments from Chiefs

Bellevue, WA Chief Stephen Mylett:

I’m Concerned About a Backlash Against Chinese-Americans in My City

Bellevue is a city of 148,000 across Lake Washington from Seattle and adjacent to Kirkland, WA, where 29 COVID-19 deaths have been associated with the Life Care nursing home.

In Bellevue our largest ethnic group is from Asia; it’s about 35 percent of our residents, and includes a very large Chinese population in Bellevue and in our region.

We saw a 178-percent increase in people purchasing firearms in just the first week and a half of March. And as I studied the list of firearm transfers, the vast majority of the names appeared to be Chinese. So I looked into it and was told that yes, many people of Chinese heritage are seeking these concealed pistol licenses and firearms transfers. 

Bellevue isn’t the only city in Washington State that has a large Chinese-American community. I polled the chiefs in our region here, and everyone is experiencing the same thing.

I have six Advisory Councils, including an Asian-Pacific Islander group. So I called an emergency meeting over the phone and asked that group for insight about why people of Chinese heritage are racing to get firearms.

And one of the members said, “They’re afraid, because people are starting to blame them for the virus. They fear that they are going to be attacked.” So we’re coming up with some strategies for addressing that. I fear we’re going to start seeing acts of aggressive behavior against people of Chinese heritage.


NYPD Assistant Chief James Essig: 

We Are Finally About to Get A System for Testing Symptomatic Officers

The biggest issue we’re facing is the exposure to the police officers and how we can deal with it and keep our staffing levels up. We’re just a little bit above where we normally are in officers reporting being sick, but it’s growing daily. So we’re concerned about making sure we have enough masks, sanitizing gel, etc. We run out of those items very quickly.

This week, officers who have symptoms will start to be able to get drive-through testing for the COVID-19 virus. We’re just starting that now.


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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