May 15, 2020


PERF’s COVID-19 coronavirus resources, including past editions of the Daily COVID-19 Report, are available at


For today’s COVID-19 Report, we got updates from top police officials in New York, California, and Italy.


Yonkers, NY Police Commissioner John Mueller:

It’s Easier to Get Buy-In If Everyone Is on the Street,  Including Me

Yonkers, which is adjacent to New York City and less than 2 miles west of another COVID-19 hot spot, New Rochelle, was one of the first agencies to face the threat of this pandemic.

Police Commissioner John Mueller spoke with Chuck Wexler about issues in his department, including building agency support for single-officer cars and 12-hour shifts.

Chuck Wexler: John, what was your mindset when the pandemic first began?

Commissioner Mueller:  We were hit first. Westchester County, which is our county, and New Rochelle, which is next to us, were early hot spots. So we knew it was coming toward us, and we wanted to be as agile as possible in changing how we did business. We weren’t going to agonize over decisions. We were going to make a decision, evaluate it after a couple days, and be ready to change again if necessary.


We quickly realized that we had a hot spot in our 3rd Precinct, which normally is all two-officer cars. At one point we had 22 officers from that precinct test positive for COVID-19. We realized it was because they were all riding together. You can’t be socially distant riding in a car with your partner.

Wexler:  Two-officer cars are normally considered more safe for officers, and you have a strong union in Yonkers. How were you able to make a quick change to single-officer cars?

Commissioner Mueller:  Both our unions – the supervisory officers’ union and the Police Benevolent Association – were very helpful. We brought them to the table and worked through it together. They like two-officer cars for safety reasons, especially in areas with more violent crime. So we told them that the only thing that would change is that the officers would be in separate cars following each other. So if we would normally dispatch one two-officer car, we’re sending two officers in two different cars. If they need backup, we use four one-officer cars. They were given very strict instructions not to leave each other. After we talked about it, the unions thought it made sense.


One way we got buy-in is by moving everyone out to the street, even the officer who sits in the commissioner’s office. The way you get buy-in is if everybody’s in it together. People think “I’m out here putting my best foot forward, and that guy gets to stay in the commissioner’s office getting him coffee.” That may not be the case, but it’s the perception, and it’s very important for us to get past that.

So I put everyone on the street, including myself. We have 17 captains, 3 chiefs, and I’m the commissioner. I told them that each one of us is going to take a shift from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for as long as this goes. I’m in the scheduling system, so officers see my name. And I stop by the stations.

Once we went to the 12-hour tours, and everyone saw that we were all doing it, other changes were easier and more palatable, because no one can ask, “Why doesn’t that person have to do it?”

We also told them they’d have six days off, which is in the spirit of the guidance from the governor and the CDC. We want officers to use those six days to keep themselves healthy, then come back for the two 12-hour tours before going back home for another six days.

That works out to fewer hours than they’re contractually obligated to, but we needed to do it to get buy-in.

Wexler:  What are your other takeaways?

Commissioner Mueller:  Police departments generally think about incidents as lasting a set amount of time. Major protests or riots last for a few days, at most. If there’s a terrorist attack, we might be working a lot of hours for the next 2 or 3 weeks.

But COVID is a slog, and we’ve never seen a slog like this before. We’re two months into this and we’re still in the danger zone. And we’re already hearing that there could be a resurgence in the fall. 

A tribute to Yonkers Detective William Sullivan, who died last month from COVID-19 complications


LAPD Chief Michel Moore:

Your Messages to Officers and the Public Must Be Consistent

LAPD Chief Michel Moore shared the weekly video update he sent out his officers and other employees last Friday, May 8. He addresses several topics:

  • Changes as the city and state ease some stay-at-home restrictions;
  • Two recent high-profile incidents;
  • Officer safety and wellness during the pandemic;
  • The pandemic’s impact on the department;
  • National Police Week and an upcoming memorial service for the two LAPD officers who died in the line of duty last year.

Chuck Wexler spoke with Chief Moore about the video.

Wexler:   Why did you put out this video?

Chief Moore: Like other chiefs across the country, I recognize the importance of communicating with my people. This is one of the most trying events in any of our memories. Many times, the first thing we lose in an emergency is communication.

So it’s been a particular focus of mine to put out a video message to our rank-and-file each week that discusses current issues. As I look back over the past eight weeks, there has been an evolution of the messages. But every message thanks everyone for their time, their work, and their energy. I want to recognize everyone’s sacrifice and the impact this has on them and their families.

Secondly, I give them a snapshot of what is happening from one week to the next. Last week, I talked about the transition we’re in. We hope we’ve reached the peak and can start to talk about opening up parts of our community and our society. So I wanted to talk with our people about that process and our role, and to let them know that more information would be coming.

In this video, I also wanted to discuss two major events that have made news nationally and internationally. One was a shooting between three of our officers who were off-duty, and the other was a police use of force that was captured on video and was going viral. I wanted to talk about that and how disturbing it was to the public and, I’m sure, to members of the department. I made it clear that I’m withholding judgment pending the investigation, but the investigation is on my mind. I set the tone that this wasn’t something I was going to sweep under the rug or minimize, because my public statements and internal statements need to match.

Like my predecessors Chief Beck, Chief Bratton, and others, I believe that when you go out and talk about incidents, you reassure everyone that when mistakes occur, they won’t be minimized and people will be held accountable.

Wexler:  Is a message like this a shift from where the LAPD was 20 years ago?

Chief Moore:  Yes, I believe so. One thing I learned from Bill Bratton’s time leading the LAPD and NYPD is that your people are listening to every communication, internal and external. They listen to see if there’s a difference in tone or content, and if you’re placating them or the public.

For me, sharing this weekly message without talking about those two incidents might raise questions about how seriously I’m taking them.

During the Rampart scandal and the aftermath of the consent decree, I saw that our people recognize these events but can’t be distracted by them. They need to stay focused. If they’re part of it, they’re accountable. But if they’re not, they need to hear a recognition from the chief that these incidents aren’t representative of their work. Their work demonstrates professionalism, fairness, and integrity.

Lastly, I needed to recognize Police Week, particularly after we lost two officers last year: Esme Ramirez and Juan Diaz.


Italian Carabinieri Colonel Pietro Carrozza:

Policing Is More Complicated as Regulations Are Relaxed

Carabinieri Col. Pietro Carrozza, who we interviewed for our April 30th COVID report, provided the following update this week about how policing has changed since Italy began easing regulations on May 4.

Here in Verona we are facing what the Government calls “Phase 2.” Since May 4, the lockdown measures have been eased. People are allowed to visit their relatives in small numbers, to move around their own region. Moreover, parks, factories and building sites reopened. Pizzerias and restaurants can work with take away/delivery. Nonetheless, people must always wear masks and gloves or have hand hygenizer, and respect the social distancing. And they still can’t move between regions without a reasonable justification for work or health.

This decision to ease rules comes after Italy recorded its lowest number of new confirmed cases since the outbreak began, with also a gradual decrease of Intensive Care patients.

Our policing changed a lot since the lockdown measures were reduced. With a lot of people again allowed to go out from their homes, it’s harder to spot who is not respecting the rules. Now what we’re called to do is to watch and ensure that nobody gathers in large groups or is out without masks.

Since Verona is near the Lombardia region, we patrol the border and check the people who enter the Veneto Region are legitimate to do so.

We intensified patrolling the area near the lake of Garda, particularly during weekends, and advertised our activities through mass media to discourage citizens from breaking the law.

Authorities are worried about demonstrations by shop owners and employees who are facing an economic crisis due to the lockdown.  However, we engaged people and were able to channel the protests in a peaceful and respectful way. For example, shop owners gathered in front of their shops with candles.

We saw a gradual surge in common crimes, especially in drug dealing, thefts, and robberies. I also highlight the increase of fatal car/motorbike accidents. After almost 3 months of being home, drivers might have lost attention.


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.

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