Public perception of police behaviors in the disaster COVID-19 – The case of Serbia
Purpose: The aim of the study is to determine the perception of general public on the Serbian police behaviors in combating COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the perception of the citizens how successful the police units were in fulfilling their tasks. Design/methodology/approach: Due to the state of emergency declared due to COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the restriction of movement and the need for social distance, the data collection for this study had to be conducted via the online survey platform (Google.doc). The study was conducted during March–April 2020, only four weeks after the state of emergency was declared. The participants were invited to complete the online questionnaire in their native language by using the snowball sampling strategy focused on recruiting the general public via social media tools. Findings: Considering the fact that police officers are not sufficiently prepared and trained to respond in these specific circumstances, it is necessary to improve their engagement in the future by conducting appropriate training, procuring adequate resources, implementing adequate planning activities, etc. The results of the multivariate regressions of public perception preparedness subscale show that the most important predictor is gender and it explains 23.6% of the variance in preparedness subscale. The remaining variables did not have significant effects on preparedness. This model with all mentioned independent variables explains 6.1% of the variance of preparedness subscale. Originality/value: Bearing in mind that there were no completed studies on public perception of police behaviors about the COVID-19 disaster in Serbia, the research has a considerable scientific and social importance. © 2020, Emerald Publishing Limited.