American Law Enforcement Responses to COVID-19
14 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2020 Last revised: 11 May 2021
Date Written: October 7, 2020
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: Suggested Citation