It is becoming clear that COVID-19 is upending everything in our daily lives. It’s
changing how we shop, socialize, go to school, and in most cases how we work. But regardless of the changes it is wreaking in the world today, the job of the patrol officer remains the same: keeping the community safe. Calls for service can’t be answered from your home office and you can’t proactively patrol a neighborhood from behind the safety of a computer screen. Patrol operations require officers to be out on the streets while the rest of us shelter in place.

Even though the mission and responsibilities remain unchanged, the environment is different. Patrol work has become even more dangerous. As we are now seeing in the news, the risk of infection to officers is quite high, largely because their job is to interact with broad segments of the public. Some departments are now trying to minimize officer interaction with the public as much as possible.

This underscores a critical point: crime prevention is one of the most effective ways to reduce officer risk of infection. Each crime prevented means one less instance of responding to a call for service, one less set of interviews with witnesses, one less exercise in evidence collection, one less round of questioning of suspects. It means one less arrest, one less trial, one less person placed into custody. Each time you eliminate one of those steps, you greatly reduce the risk of officer exposure to COVID-19.

As mentioned in our previous blog, with shutdowns and social distancing in place, COVID-19 is causing a change in the patterns of crime types, crime locations, and crime dates and times. Officers need to be able to anticipate these changing trends and try to get ahead of them.

Even the kinds of things officers do on patrol are starting to change. A few months ago, few of us could have imagined that officers would be asked to keep people away from parks or beaches on a sunny day, or to break up gatherings of a dozen people who are just sitting around having a picnic. Activities like enforcing stay-home orders for infected residents are also new territory for most officers.

Geolitica wants to help officers stay safe and effective, and fortunately we have tools that can do that. In particular, our custom boxes feature lets command staff add their own boxes anywhere they need to on a patrol map. Here are some of the ideas our partners have come up with:

1. Use custom boxes to designate an area deemed to be at high risk for infection to responding officers - This could be based on a high number of potential Covid-19 patients near that location, or other environmental factors, such as a higher number of people whose circumstances put them at risk in that area.

2. Use custom boxes to identify residences subject to stay-home orders - Most people gracefully accept these orders to protect their fellow citizens, but not
 everyone cooperates, so rolling a cruiser through their neighborhood periodically can remind them of their obligations.

3. Use custom boxes to identify areas prone to gatherings disallowed under
shelter-in-place or social-distancing rules - These can include parks, beaches, parking lots, ball fields, and other areas where problematic behavior has been observed. By identifying these locations in each patrol area, command staff can ensure that they are being adequately patrolled. These box locations can be varied by time of day and day of week based on perceived risks. Like it or not, law enforcement officers have also become de facto public health officers, and enforcing social-distancing requirements helps keep the whole community safer.

Please click the button below to contact us for more information on how we can help you keep your community safe during this difficult time.