From a series of “virtual” panel workshops on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on sectors of the criminal justice system, this report summarizes the proceedings of two of the panel workshops, one that focused on law enforcement agency management and one that addressed law enforcement services and operations.
The participants included representatives of police departments and sheriffs’ offices, as well as crime laboratories and universities. A separate community workshop provided input on the broader effects of changes made by law enforcement agencies and the justice system. Representatives were from agencies in large urban areas and smaller suburban or rural areas. Workshop issues discussed in this report are the unclear role of law enforcement agencies in supporting public health efforts, concerns about exposure and illness, changes in crime characteristics and trends during the pandemic, challenges associated with social unrest, budget pressures, and impacts from changes to other parts of the criminal justice system. This report outlines what the workshop panels determined would be needed to ensure that law enforcement practices are fair and effective during the pandemic. Some examples are provided of evaluation questions proposed by workshop participants for law enforcement agencies to use in assessing their performance in addressing effects of the pandemic. One panelist is quoted as saying, “We have the unfortunate opportunity to really use this as an experiment, to really find out what drives crime [and] what helps reduce crime.” Workshop recommendations address promising law enforcement practices during the pandemic that should continue beyond the pandemic.
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