An article by Florence Chung, CEO of THE HETTY GROUP
The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed how we go about our lives. With new changes occurring daily, it is important we learn to roll with every punch. This is especially crucial for law enforcement who work 24/7, putting their health at risk to continue serving their communities.
Behind the scenes of some police departments is a police foundation supporting it. Simply put, police foundations are nonprofit organizations that often serve as a bridge between the community and police departments and provide supplemental grant funding to improve public safety. They spur innovation and provide additional tools by funding training, new technology and equipment, and supporting community-police relations. Every city has its own unique needs. Local police foundations provide resources and support to law enforcement so they can meet those needs.
Now more than ever, police foundations are working hard behind the scenes during COVID-19 to connect resources to public safety-first responders quickly and efficiently.
New COVID-era Challenges for Law Enforcement
Crime is lower in many areas in the COVID period. But for some, being quarantined at home means being trapped with an abusive partner or family member. Domestic abuse reports are coming in at an alarming rate. Opportunistic cybercriminals are crafting scams that prey on the fears of their targets. “Porch pirates” are taking advantage of increased online package deliveries.
The large amounts of people out of work may lead to higher crime later. A new 15-year study out of Norway found that out-of-work people commit 60 percent more property crimes (burglary, theft, shoplifting, etc.) in the year after losing work. This increase may be even more likely due to many out-of-work Americans being unable to apply for unemployment benefits online because of high Internet traffic. And not everyone is eligible for federal stimulus checks.
Though there are many uncertainties during this time, one certainty is that police officers need to be equipped to safely protect their communities and continue to serve as first responders.
Police Foundations in Action
Police foundations nationwide are stepping in to assist law enforcement on the COVID-19 frontlines. The Las Vegas Metro Police Foundation, for instance, launched a new community campaign where anyone can purchase a gift card online from a local business and donate it to frontline essential workers (police, fire, and healthcare workers) —a win-win scenario of supporting local businesses and saying thank you to first responders.
The New York City Police Foundation has provided the NYPD with 500,000 masks, 200,000 gloves, 150,000 packets of hand sanitizer and more than a hundred hotel rooms for officers who can’t risk going home and spreading the virus to vulnerable loved ones. And thanks to donors in their community, the Philadelphia Police Foundation purchased 50,000 K95 masks for distribution to the Philadelphia Police Department.
How You Can Help
Supporting your local police foundation is a worthwhile investment to ensuring law enforcement can keep you and your community stay safe in the wake of the pandemic. Don’t know if your city has a police foundation? You can google your police department and the word “foundation” to see if one exists in your city (there are over 300 nationwide). Your local police foundation can help facilitate your donations, services and support. Monetary donations are best—cities like Los Angeles are using them to replenish PPE supplies for their officers, but product donations or your talents and services are appreciated as well. If you’re a barber, you can offer free haircuts to police officers who need them. If you are an Airbnb host, you can host first responders. Buying gift cards online, or ordering food from a restaurant and having it delivered to your police department with a thank-you note, are other great gestures. Police foundation staff can help guide a community toward the exact needs and best ways to support their police department.
Law enforcement often don’t receive widespread support. But like all other frontline workers, they are also out there risking exposure to COVID-19 and working hard to keep communities safe. Whatever we can do to provide them a morale boost will help create a stronger society for us all in the long run.