American Law Enforcement Responses to COVID-19

14 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2020 Last revised: 11 May 2021

See all articles by Matthew B. Kugler

Matthew B. Kugler

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law

Mariana Oliver

Northwestern University, Pritzker School of Law

Jonathan Chu

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy

Nathan Lee

Stanford University, Department of Political Science; Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT)

Date Written: October 7, 2020

Abstract

During the spring and summer of 2020, what role did law enforcement play in promoting COVID-19 restrictions in the United States? Because most law enforcement in the US occurs at the local level, we conducted a survey of local police departments to examine their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results show that most departments, especially departments in smaller jurisdictions, played a minimal role in enforcing COVID-related restrictions and tended to only encourage compliance. Further, it was extremely rare for a department to use sophisticated surveillance technology to monitor COVID compliance. This lack of monitoring stands in stark contrast to both the regimes employed by several comparable industrialized countries and the broad surveillance powers permissible under the U.S. Constitution.

Keywords: COVID-19, law enforcement, surveillance, survey, law and social science

JEL Classification: K10, K30

Suggested Citation

Kugler, Matthew B. and Oliver, Mariana and Chu, Jonathan and Lee, Nathan and Lee, Nathan, American Law Enforcement Responses to COVID-19 (October 7, 2020). 112 Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology Online, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 20-25, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3707087 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3707087

Matthew B. Kugler (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Mariana Oliver

Northwestern University, Pritzker School of Law ( email )

Evanston, IL 60208
United States

Jonathan Chu

National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy ( email )

Singapore 117591
Singapore

Nathan Lee

Stanford University, Department of Political Science ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

HOME PAGE: http://https://people.stanford.edu/nathanrl/

Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) ( email )

Rochester, NY 14623
United States

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