Policing a Pandemic: How Police Were, and Were Not, Prepared for COVID-19

A woman is told to go home by a police officer on a motorbike to stop the spread of the coronavirus, on Primrose Hill, London, April 5, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).
A woman is told to go home by a police officer on a motorbike to stop the spread of the coronavirus, on Primrose Hill, London, April 5, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).
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For as long as there have been governments, pandemics have been occasions for the exercise of greater muscle by the state. In the case of COVID-19, that muscle has predominantly been the police. From the initial outbreak and first mass quarantine in the central Chinese city of Wuhan to the lockdowns around the globe today, national leaders and local officials alike have called on their police to play a new set of roles and enforce a new set of rules. What’s gone well and what’s gone badly? What’s been learned? And what’s next? Before examining any actual policing, it is […]

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