LEAP's COVID-19 Info Center
As COVID-19 moves through our communities, medical experts know immediate steps must be taken to address this massive threat to public health. Now is the time to act. We need to reduce incarceration levels, particularly for those in pre-trial diversion programs, rehabilitation programs, those facing imminent release, those being held on minor parole violations or other low-level offenses, and elderly prisoners who pose no public safety risk. Beyond that, we should stop criminalizing homelessness, allow court dates to be postponed or proceed without the defendant present until this public health crisis can be managed effectively, and utilize as many alternatives to detention as possible.
LEAP is committed to taking action on the federal and state levels, providing education from our law enforcement experts, and joining our criminal justice partners in calling for safety measures that will protect us all: our law enforcement and medical professionals, essential service workers, and our communities – particularly the most vulnerable among us, including the homeless and those in detention.
Keep checking here for the latest LEAP efforts on the COVID-19 crisis.
On April 21st, LEAP sent a letter to the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the US Conference of Mayors, endorsing a set of recommendations for how police agencies can best respond to the pandemic. The recommendations were authored by a broad coalition of 11 organizations: REFORM Alliance, R Street Institute, Right on Crime, The American Conservative Union Foundation, Equity Distribution, FreedomWorks, The Heritage Foundation, Justice Action Network, Americans for Prosperity, Faith and Freedom Coalition, and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Thirty-five police chiefs, sheriffs, and officers of all backgrounds signed the letter in the interest of public health and safety. The recommendations include ensuring officers have the authority to give verbal warnings and citations in lieu of arrest; reassigning officers from non-essential departments to emergency services; requiring thorough reporting of new COVID-19 cases up the chain of command; ensuring equipment, work spaces, and vehicles are sanitized regularly; and protecting officers’ ability to take sick leave.
"Right now, the most important things police can do to protect themselves and their communities from coronavirus are to reduce arrests, focus on violent crime, provide an access point to essential services, and tend to their own physical and mental wellbeing. These also happen to be things that would greatly improve our departments once this is over."
"I signed this letter because policing in America has been at a crossroads for some time now. The coronavirus pandemic demands we enact these changes, which improve public safety and public health outcomes for both communities and police. Reason dictates we stick to them. Experience will show they are more effective than what we have been doing."