Giving Compass' Take:

• An article at Rand lists three important steps to help police officers respond to enforce social distancing with an emphasis on de-escalating COVID-19 misinformation.

• How can we make sure officers respond to "pop-up" parties and other disturbances equitably? How does curbing COVID-19 misinformation play a role in this?

• Read about the gaps in police officers' response to minority communities during crisis.

There is great uncertainty about how to handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Various sources and personalities discuss their personal views, contributing to the increasing spread of misinformation about the risks of infections. This has resulted in the police being asked to enforce mask policies and health orders, to respond to “pop-up” parties, and to handle disturbances between groups for or against issues seen as infringing on personal liberties.

To ensure their agency is seen as neutral in the political debate, and to avoid the pitfalls of casual statements being interpreted as department policy, there are three steps every police officer can follow.

The first step is knowing laws and policies, remaining neutral in regard to the constitutionality or legality of public health orders, and remaining empathetic to all sides of contentious issues.

The second step is to recognize what information about combating COVID-19 should be shared. There are general health practices that have been approved and heralded by groups across the political spectrum. These practices typically call for hand washing and social distancing, staying home if coughing, and refraining from gathering in crowds, especially indoors with recycled air.

That leads to the third step—understanding what drives the creation and spread of misinformation. For example, articles and social media posts often do not convey the sense that agreements can be achieved, or that people can retain their individual rights while respecting those of others. Instead, there is a surplus of misinformation emphasizing major conflicts across the country, much of it stoking fear and anger.

The actions you take to combat misinformation and improve protections in your communities are a critical part of the collective campaign to end the pandemic and help people return to their normal lives.

Read the full article about COVID-19 misinformation at Rand.