3,200 Officers Weigh in on COVID Decree EnforcementBy Calibre Press | May 6, 2020
In a recent national poll of law enforcement officers, Calibre Press asked a series of questions related to the enforcement of the pandemic-inspired decrees that have surfaced across the country. 3,234 officers responded. Here are the results:
Years on the job. The majority of respondents—more than 80%—have been on the job for more than 10 years. Of that group, 43.8% have been in law enforcement for more than 21 years and about the same, 40%, have been on the job for between 11-20 years. 15% have been policing for between three and 10 years and the remaining 1.2% have been sworn for less than three years.
The ranks. The majority of responding officers, nearly 43%, work in patrol capacities. 28.5% are first-line supervisors, 14% are at the command level and just under 10% are detectives. The remaining 5% are chiefs or sheriffs.
Training. When asked if their agencies had conducted thorough training in each of the COVID decrees and explained the penalties for violations and the procedures for enforcement, more than 60% said no. Less than 40% said yes.
Support from the top. When asked if the head of their agency (e.g., chief or sheriff) support the COVID decrees and compel their enforcement 33.8% said it depended on the decree being violated. About 21% said yes and an equal number said no. The remaining 24.6% reported having no idea what their agency leaders thought about the decrees.
Agency view on enforcement. When asked about their agency’s approach to enforcement, almost 42% said they will enforce only after “significant warnings” while nearly 25% said their agency ignores most of the decrees. Approximately 20% reported no agency-wide consistency in enforcement and 11.5% say enforcement only occurs with supervisory approval. A minimal 3.3% report immediate enforcement action being taken.
Individual views. When asked about their personal feelings about the COVID decrees and their attitude toward enforcement, 49% said they “reflect government overreach.” They felt they are “overly broad and probably unconstitutional” and they will not enforce unless ordered to do so. Just over 26% felt they were “generally legal, necessary and enforceable” but inconsistent in scope. Nearly 20% felt they’re “illegal and inconsistent” and they will “not enforce for any reason.” A mere 5.7% feel they’re “completely legal, justified and enforceable.”
The impact on community relations. When asked how they think enforcing COVID decrees will impact the relationship between police and their communities, nearly 50% believe it will damage community relations. 28% have split feelings on how their communities view enforcement and approximately 23% think only time will tell. Just 2.3% feel enforcing the COVID decrees will actually strengthen their relationship with the community.
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