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A Multi-method Case Study of a Police Agency's Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal Volume: 47 Issue: 2 Dated: March 2024 Pages: 285-305
Date Published
March 2024
20 pages

This paper reports on a police agency’s internal and external response to the Covid-19 pandemic; it lays out the multi-method case study’s design, approach to research, and findings, including some that suggested that certain policies intended to protect employee health and maintain staffing needs may have increased feelings of organization injustice among sworn and non-sworn individuals.


The authors present the results of one of the only in-depth studies of a police agency’s internal and external response to the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 (COVID-19). This study emphasizes the importance of law enforcement agencies conducting comprehensive case studies and after-action assessments to prepare, prevent and respond to prolonged public health crises and showcases the profound (and lingering) effects of COVID-19 on police organizations. This multi-method case study combines document analysis, a workforce survey, a community survey, interviews and analysis of administrative data to detail and assess the agency’s internal and operational responses to the pandemic and the reactions of employees and community members to those responses. Despite agency strategies to mitigate the pandemic’s effects, employees cited very high stress levels one year after the pandemic and a third of sworn officers considered leaving the policing profession altogether during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several policies intended by the agency to protect employee health and maintain staffing needs kept workforce levels steady but may have increased feelings of organizational injustice in both sworn and non-sworn individuals, with variation across racial and gender groups. A jurisdiction-wide community survey indicated general support for the police department’s responses but a preference for in-person rather than telephone-based responses to service calls. Officers, however, preferred continuing remote responses even after the pandemic subsided. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is one of the only in-depth case studies that examine a police agency’s internal and external responses to COVID-19 and the sworn, non-sworn and community reactions to those responses. (Published Abstract Provided)

Date Published: March 1, 2024