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WIU LEJA Professors Study the Effects of COVID-19 on Police Departments

June 25, 2020


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MACOMB, IL - - Globally, over nine million people have contracted COVID-19 and more than 470,000 people have perished, including more than 118,000 deaths in the United States. COVID-19 has had various negative effects worldwide across industries, governments, non-governmental organizations, and non-profit entities, among others. As the lethality and corrosiveness of the COVID-19 expanded in the United States, two Western Illinois University professors, Dean C. Alexander and Niyazi Ekici, of the School of Law Enforcement and Justice Administration (LEJA), began a research project to gauge the impact of this pandemic on law enforcement agencies in this country.

They began by surveying more than 200 police departments in Illinois. Analysis of the survey results demonstrates that COVID-19 has a significant impact on police departments in Illinois in terms of their interactions with the public, as well as within police institutions.

Ninety-four percent of respondents said that new safety measures have been implemented for their personnel due to the pandemic. Eighty-three percent of participants noted they reduced public access to their facilities, while a similar percentage lowered their use of community policing activities. Reductions in enforcement actions and in-person responses to calls for service were found among 78% and 76% of respondents, respectively. Also, the survey found that 82% of police agencies suspended their police academies and in-service training activities, while 80% modified their roll call procedures due to COVID-19. Other operational findings included: 68% of agencies modified personnel scheduling, 62% limited staff access to specific police facilities, and 42% furloughed or reduced staffing.

Although 94% of respondents said that new safety procedures were implemented, only 75% believed their departments had an increased concern for their health and safety. Likewise, 58% perceived that they were at greater risk than before the pandemic. More than half of the respondents were over 46 years old (58%) and predominantly males (92%). Forty-nine percent of the respondents were affiliated with police departments that had staff of between 1-50 personnel, with the remainder working at institutions with staff of between 51-300 personnel.

Professors Alexander and Ekici have collaborated on other research activities, particularly in the counterterrorism areas. They intend to survey other police agencies across the country and publish their findings in peer-reviewed articles and other works.

WIU's School of LEJA is an internationally known, leading criminal justice/public safety program. LEJA's undergraduate and graduate degree programs are specifically developed in collaboration with law enforcement, corrections, security, legal, emergency management, and fire industry leaders. This curriculum is taught exclusively by professionals who have worked in the specified field. In addition to majors in law enforcement and justice administration, fire protection services and emergency management, LEJA offers minors in corrections, criminalistics, homeland security, legal studies, security management, emergency management, fire administration and fire science.

For more information on Western's LEJA program, visit wiu.edu/leja. For questions related to the research performed by Alexander and Ekici, email dc-alexander@wiu.edu or n-ekici@wiu.edu.

Posted By: WIU News (U-Relations@wiu.edu)
Office of University Relations