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The Many Ways Police Officers Kept Us Safe During the Pandemic

Professionals in law enforcement jobs played life-saving roles during this public health emergency.

In the COVID-19 outbreak’s early days, law enforcement leaders understood they would have to operate in some new ways if they were going to protect their communities from this unseen but deadly threat.

To help support the law enforcement community in this effort, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) issued “Organizational Readiness: Considerations for Preparing Your Agency for COVID-19.” This policy paper is a valuable resource for people working in law enforcement jobs, as well as for working professionals earning criminal justice degrees.


These excerpts from the IACP guidelines are some of the ways law enforcement agencies kept us safe during the pandemic:1

  • Educate: “Prepare officers to answer questions about testing kit availability, travel restrictions, quarantine and isolation, and personal safety measures including who the public should call for such information.”
  • Communicate: “Coordinate with national, state, tribal, and local authorities to ensure accurate and consistent information. Communicate to combat disinformation about COVID-19, raise awareness of potential virus-related scam efforts, and highlight effective practices.”
  • Respond: “Be prepared for community requests to evolve and reflect the needs of COVID-19 patients, including … transport to hospitals, wellness checks, and delivery of critical items like medication.”

Keeping Communities Safe

Law enforcement officers implemented these and other procedures and performed—and continue to perform—numerous duties dedicated to safeguarding public health.

At U.S. vaccination distribution sites like the Ezell Hester Community Center in Boynton Beach, Florida, for example, law enforcement officers helped manage crowd control, answer questions, and perform other duties to assure a safe and orderly process for the public and healthcare professionals.

In communities that established curfews to help contain COVID-19’s spread, law enforcement officers were tasked with enforcing them. Phillip Francisco, chief of police for the Navajo Police Department headquartered in Window Rock, Arizona, said his squad used the opportunity to offer other public safety measures, too: “We had creative ways to communicate with the public, which we kind of turned into public service announcement checkpoints. We were basically saying, ‘Hey, we have curfews. You need to wear your PPE,’ educating, and giving out PPE.”2

In the United Kingdom, police took steps to safeguard the public by implementing “the 4 Es: Engage. Explain. Encourage. Enforce.” explained, “First we will try to engage with someone, explain how we think they are breaking the rules, and encourage them to change their behavior to reduce the risk to public safety and health.”3 Then came enforcement: People who put public health at risk faced fines.

When states issued shelter-in-place orders to prevent COVID-19’s spread, the safety measure intensified dangerous conditions for people at risk for domestic violence.4 Law enforcement acted. The Minnesota Department of Public Safety advised police officers that relocating at-risk individuals was the “No. 1 allowable activity” when shelter-in-place orders were in effect: “This means that those who are not safe in their homes may relocate to a safer place, such as the home of a family member, friend, or a designated shelter, without violating the governor’s order.”5

Doing Your Part for Criminal Justice

Earning an online criminal justice degree can prepare you to serve and lead your community during routine and extraordinary times. At Walden University, a flexible online learning platform lets you earn a criminal justice degree while staying engaged in your career and family life.

Walden’s MS in Criminal Justice online degree program features a General Program and eight specializations covering contemporary career fields like Emergency Management, Cybercrimes, Homeland Security Policy and Coordination, and Public Management and Leadership. Walden also offers an online MS in Criminal Justice Leadership and Executive Management degree program.

As you prepare for future criminal justice jobs, you’ll learn from distinguished faculty, including Dr. Jessie Lee, former executive director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE). And the media-rich coursework in Walden’s online master’s programs includes a focus on current events to help prepare you for real-world challenges, like the coronavirus pandemic.

Walden’s range of online criminology degrees includes a PhD in Criminal Justice that features a General Program and seven specializations. As a PhD candidate, you’ll explore contemporary theory and practice as well as national and international issues in the administration of criminal justice.

And if you’re ready to launch a criminology career, an online BS in Criminal Justice degree program can help prepare you for entry-level law enforcement jobs in policing, corrections, investigation, security, and more.

Earning a bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD online can help you launch or build a career as a respected criminal justice professional working to make the world safer for all of us.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering online criminal justice degree programs, including an MS in Criminal Justice. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,