Monday, March 23, 2020

Police Tread Lightly as Pandemic Spreads

Facing sweeping new safety orders, a frightened public and health risks of close contact, many police departments have decided that, for now, less is more.

Chicago police officers patrolled on horses along a nearly empty Michigan Avenue on Saturday.Credit...Joshua Lott for The New York Times

By Shaila Dewan, Vanessa Swales and Neil Vigdor

If you have a fender bender in Nashville these days, chances are you’ll be filing your report by phone. In Philadelphia, the police are trying not to take drug dealers to jail. In Hilton Head, S.C., the authorities have seemed particularly focused on one offense: gathering and drinking on the beach. 

But even that transgression was unlikely to lead to an arrest. Across the country, violators of new rules that require staying at home and keeping your distance from others are most likely to get off with a warning.

Police departments are treading softly as they navigate the twin demands of the coronavirus pandemic: how and when to enforce the new safety regulations, and how to do their regular work in the midst of a national health emergency.  Read more >>