Where, When, and By Whom: An Exploratory Analysis of COVID-19 Public Health Violations

AuthorNicole Leeper Piquero,Alex R. Piquero,Justin Kurland,Elizabeth L. Gloyd,Wanda E. Leal
Date01 November 2021
Publication Date01 November 2021
DOI10.1177/10439862211034321
SubjectArticles
https://doi.org/10.1177/10439862211034321
Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice
2021, Vol. 37(4) 523 –542
© The Author(s) 2021
Article reuse guidelines:
sagepub.com/journals-permissions
DOI: 10.1177/10439862211034321
journals.sagepub.com/home/ccj
Article
Where, When, and By
Whom: An Exploratory
Analysis of COVID-19
Public Health Violations
Wanda E. Leal1, Justin Kurland2,
Alex R. Piquero3,4, Elizabeth L. Gloyd5,
and Nicole Leeper Piquero3
Abstract
COVID-19 health restrictions not only affected crime rates but also created a new
and temporary type of crime, COVID-19 public health violations. Unfortunately,
this new crime type has not yet been empirically scrutinized. The current study
is the first to explore these COVID-19 public health violations by using a dataset
created by the City of San Antonio which documents all calls and inspections about
COVID-19 public health violations. Specifically, this study investigates the location
types (where) that produce the greatest number of calls/inspections, warnings,
and citations for COVID-19 public health violations; how they trended over time
(when); and which agencies responded to and enforced them (who). The results
indicate that there were differences across location type, variation throughout the
observation period, and violations were enforced by several agencies. It is crucial
to document the effect of COVID-19-related policies so that we may be better
prepared for the future.
Keywords
COVID-19, public health violations, policing, San Antonio
1Texas A&M University-San Antonio, USA
2The University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, USA
3University of Miami, Coral Gables, USA
4Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
5Southern Arkansas University, Magnolia, USA
Corresponding Author:
Wanda E. Leal, Department of Social Sciences, College of Arts & Sciences, Texas A&M University-San
Antonio, 1 University Way, San Antonio, TX 78224, USA.
Email: Wanda.Leal@tamusa.edu
1034321CCJXXX10.1177/10439862211034321Journal of Contemporary Criminal JusticeLeal et al.
research-article2021
524 Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 37(4)
Introduction
When the novel coronavirus began spreading around the world, almost every domain
of daily life changed. Schools closed moving classroom instruction online, small and
large gatherings were limited, social events were canceled, and businesses were forced
to either operate at severely reduced capacities or shutter. Crime was not a domain
immune from the effects of the coronavirus. Certain types of crime, particularly vio-
lent crime and domestic violence, increased when COVID-19 restrictions were first
implemented (Boman & Gallupe, 2020; Mohler et al., 2020; Piquero et al., 2020,
2021; Rmandic et al., 2020; Rosenfeld et al., 2021) and gang crime stayed fairly con-
stant (Brantingham et al., 2021), while decreases were found for most forms of prop-
erty crime during this same initial time period (Andresen & Hodgkinson, 2020; De la
Miyar et al., 2021; Gerell et al., 2020; Halford et al., 2020; Hodgkinson & Andresen,
2020; Kim & Leung, 2020; Payne et al., 2021). Understandably, the criminological
community was focused on examining how the deadly coronavirus was affecting
crime at the local level; however, the pandemic affected not only traditional crimes but
also created a new type of crime: COVID-19 public health violations.
To reduce the spread of COVID-19, federal and state governments implemented a
multitude of public health restrictions such as stay at home orders, mask mandates,
limits on public and private gatherings, as well as constraining business operations.
Although these measures were intended to help stop, or at the very least slow, the
spread of the highly contagious coronavirus, the violation of them is also a crime. The
levels of enforcement and punishment of the restrictions varied by not only state but
also by county (National Academy for State Health Policy, 2020). Therefore, the ensu-
ing COVID-19 health restrictions not only affected crime rates but also created a new
and temporary type of crime, COVID-19 public health violations, that has not yet been
empirically scrutinized.
Currently, all that is known about COVID-19 public health violations is that certain
individual characteristics are associated with compliance of public health orders. For
example, females and individuals with higher levels of education, higher risk percep-
tion, trust in the government, and sense of moral obligation are more likely to comply
with public health orders (Brouard et al., 2020; Clark et al., 2020; Harper et al., 2020;
Shao & Hao, 2020; Webster et al., 2020). However, research has yet to investigate
where these public health violations were most likely to occur, how they trended as
public health restrictions changed, and who was responsible for enforcing these public
health rules.
The current study is the first to explore these COVID-19 public health violations by
examining calls for service and proactive inspections about this new crime type in one
of the most populous cities in the country, San Antonio, Texas. This analysis will
investigate three specific aspects of COVID-19 public health enforcement: (a) which
places produced the greatest number of calls/inspections, warnings, and citations for
COVID-19 public health violations; (b) how these calls/inspections, warnings, and
citations for COVID-19 public health violations trended throughout the specified time
period; and (c) which agencies responded to and enforced COVID-19 public health
violations.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT