As part of a substantial research project on policing the Covid-19 pandemic, a public survey was conducted in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight in England. Four open-ended questions provided participants with the opportunity to produce unlimited free-text responses regarding their perception of policing during the pandemic. Responses were coded and thematically analysed to identify themes concerning public compliance and policing during the lockdown. Subthemes surrounding communication, efficiency, and equity emerged from participant’s perceptions of what they considered to be ‘satisfactory’ and ‘unsatisfactory’ forms of policing during the pandemic. A common sub-theme regarding the public’s confusion over the role of the police was countered by an acknowledgement that the police were ‘doing their best.’ The pandemic has thrown into sharper relief pre-crisis public perceptions of appropriate policing. The free-text responses highlight the ongoing tensions between normative and instrumental approaches to policing and public expectations of police actions.