March 23, 2020


Following are some more updates from PERF members about the COVID-19 issues that are emerging and how departments are addressing new concerns:


Irving, TX Police Chief Jeff Spivey:

We’re Going to Provide Housing for Employees Who Are Concerned about Exposing Their Families to the Virus

We’ve had a State of Emergency declared in Irving for a week now, and we’ve gone through our Continuity of Operations Plans to make sure we are prepared for the pandemic. We’ve planned for a 40-percent loss of personnel and what that looks like. 

We also have MOUs in place with 48 other police departments surrounding Irving so that we can share personnel.

We’ve also looked at housing our employees at two levels:

1. For employees who are concerned that they might be exposed and don’t want to go home and expose their families, we’re working with some local hotels to provide shelter for them.

2. For employees that we know or fully suspect have been exposed, we’re opening a local recreation center and providing them the opportunity to isolate away from their families so they don’t contaminate their families. 


Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw:

It Isn’t Easy for Us to Get Even Basic Supplies

One of the huge issues for us is that we do not have enough of the equipment that is recommended. Even with the basics like hand sanitizer, we are scrambling to get enough. We have some for a short amount of time, but thinking long-term, we’re struggling. We’ve been working with Emergency Management to make sure we get what we need. 

We are breaking our Academy classes into smaller clusters. We have suspended police events that involve a gathering of 10 or more people. And we recently had to postpone a funeral for an officer, but we are looking to do things like a drive-by of vehicles by the officer’s home, so the family can see we are honoring their loved one. 

Certain lower-level calls will be handled over the phone without dispatching an officer. We are using discretion to make sure that we are not unduly putting our officers in a situation they do not need to be in. Courts have closed, and we don’t want to put people in an overcrowded jail when they don’t need to be there. 


New Orleans Superintendent of Police Shaun Ferguson:

Weddings and Funerals Are a Sensitive Issue

Since we’ve stopped large gatherings of people, we’re getting into a situation where people are calling police to report funerals or weddings that are occurring. We have to deal with those calls on a case-by-case basis. We’re trying to discourage people from having these large gatherings, but it puts us in a difficult position when a family is trying to say farewell to their loved one.


Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina:

We’re Screening All Employees When They Report to Work

Our Mayor came up positive for the virus, and that was a reality check for a lot of people.  

We closed most of our entrances to the department and funnel everyone through one entry point, where we take your temperature and ask you a few basic questions, like whether you’ve traveled recently or been on a cruise and whether you have any symptoms.  And if you’re cleared, we log you in and give you a wrist band, and the wrist band is a different color every day. That way, the other employees know that you’ve been screened and that you have no fever or other symptoms. 

We’ve thinned out our police force like most agencies. Investigations and Administration are mostly working remotely from home. We’ve beefed up our Patrol because it gives people a sense of security to see police out on the street. We don’t have roll calls in the station anymore; people meet out in the field in their area of operation. 

And we are collecting the data. We’ve had people who have had symptoms and we’ve sent them home for 14 days.  So we ask them where and when they think they might have been exposed, what their symptoms are, and we log that daily. 

I’m sending video messages to the troops, and I do that every couple days. The rules are changing by the day – a new emergency order takes effect, officers are taking new steps to limit exposure, or we’re closing restaurants, etc.  So we’re pushing that information out through videos. 

And I’m sending personal messages to all the employees, reminding them to please be careful with your contacts, here’s what we’re doing for you as officers, we’re going to take care of you, it’s going to be OK, and if you’re symptomatic, we’ll assign people to take care of you while you’re home. If you need something, we’re going to get it to you. We want to ease the level of anxiety.


Tempe, AZ Police Chief Sylvia Moir:

We Are Separating Key Teams to Ensure Continuity of Service

We’re doing a 50-50, separating key services such as our command and executive teams to ensure continuity of command. That means that we have very defined times and places that those teams are in-person, when they are remote, and when they are on call. 

We are examining all of our folks across the organization to ensure we are patrol-ready; all sworn employees are patrol- and uniform-ready across the organization. 

We’re also examining staffing and how we might go to a 12-hour shift, should it become necessary, and reducing or eliminating discretionary time off. 

We remain connected with the Department of Health and with our virtual EOC, which is run through the Fire Department. 

Our media strategy is about ensuring that the community sees that we are prepared and we are there for them, should they need it.


Janesville, WI Police Chief David Moore

We’ve Implemented Plans to Separate Officers

Rather than changing officer schedules to reduce exposure to the COVID 19 Virus, I believe it is more effective to provide employee separation.  We are implementing the following plan:

  • Opening two police substations in local schools.  Two separate teams of officers will work exclusively out of the two substations.

  • Developed two work teams that work at two separate offsite locations and do not report to the police department or offer field responses.

    • Team 1 works in support of police operations to include; domestic violence, CIT, COVID, addictions and teleserve.

    • Team 2  works on forward thinking, proactive and problem solving work that analyzes problem locations and problem people.  The goal is to reduce calls for service and preserve police resources.

  • We have separated the police department into two physical work zones. Patrol stays in one zone and detectives, street crimes and records stay in another.  

Without the employee separation plan the COVID 19 exposure between employees was about 80%.  With the separation of employees into offsite work units we believe the exposure rate drops to about 20%.


Officer Wellness Resources

These resources can be shared with officers to help them through this stressful time. Thanks to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for compiling this list.


VALOR Officer Safety App

The VALOR Officer Safety APP promotes mental and physical preparation for officers. Available via Apple App Store or Google Play



Bulletproof offers anonymous and confidential access to health and wellness initiatives, support, information and resources. Their 24-hour confidential support line can be reached at (800) 273-8255.


1st Help

1st Help offers quick access to resources based on a range of topics, including mental health for LE. Officers go to the website, answer a few questions, then access a database of information. Additionally, they will ship free resource cards to any individual or department that would like to hand them out. 



Copline offers 24/7 trained peer support and referrals for continued assistance. Their 24-hour confidential support line is 800-COPLINE (800-267-5463).


Safe Call Now

Safe Call now is a confidential 24-hour crisis referral service for public safety and emergency services personnel. Their 24-hr confidential support line is (206) 459-3020.


Armor Up

Armor Up is connected to the Safe Call Now 24-hour hotline, and also offers prevention, training and education related to trauma.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

The Lifeline provides 24-hour, free, confidential support for people in distress. To access it, call 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255).


Question of the Day

Has your agency altered its recruit training schedule or operations because of the coronavirus threat? Click here to respond.


The PERF Daily COVID-19 Report is part of the Critical Issues in Policing project, supported by the Motorola Solutions Foundation.

Police Executive Research Forum
1120 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 930
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 466-7820