Magazine article Law & Order

Shift Work and Officer Retention

Magazine article Law & Order

Shift Work and Officer Retention

Article excerpt

The "ideal" work schedule might be elusive to some police administrators, but it may also be the very key to retaining some patrol officers. Be willing to try a different shift schedule. No perfect schedule exists. There isn't even a dominantly used work schedule. Face it. There are no right answers here, or better yet and more correctly, there are many right answers.

Lots of things affect schedules...personnel shortages, officer seniority, special squad requirements, potential for officer fatigue, budget shortages, recruiting efforts, bargaining agreements, court appearances, and calls for service and homeland security assignments.

A wide variety of different schedules are successfully used by major departments including, 1) four days on, two days off, then five days on, two days off, 2) four 10-hour shifts with rotating days off every four weeks, 3) five days on, two days off, then five days on three days off, 4) five days on, two days off with rotating days off, 5) four eight-hour days on, two days off, 6) five-day week with eight-hour days and different two days off.

The retention issue comes into play when you realize that two-thirds of the administrators and patrol officers have different shift work preferences. And this same number (65%) of officers prefer longer, 10-hour workdays. Some metro departments have gone to 12-hour shifts to reduce overtime costs and enhance recruiting.

Police officers have to be somewhat happy with their work schedules, or they will seek better ones. That is one more reason that everyone must work together to find a schedule that is mutually satisfactory, i. …

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