COVID-19 and Police Agency Operations in Latin America and the Caribbean
This study analyzes how the COVID-19 crisis is generating changes in police work and assesses its potential impact on the effectiveness and legitimacy of police forces in Latin America and the Caribbean. According to a standardized survey administered to 13 police agencies in the region between April 15 and 27, 2020, the majority of agencies have prepared and taken rapid measures to implement security protocols and plans for contingency, as well as provide officers with protective equipment. Agencies have continued to answer calls for service and make arrests, although their usual preventive and community actions have been reduced. The study reveals that, in many cases, there is little information available on the scope and limitations of the powers of the police to enforce the sanitary measures required of citizens in the context of the pandemic. The main conclusion of the study is the need to be alert to changes in the police service and the possible negative consequences of the reduction of proactive and community activities, even more so when there is little clarity about the mechanisms that the police have to implement and carry out compliance with new regulations.