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Deployingand Scheduling Personnel

Write a response to the following prompt:

  • Identify the most favored and leastfavored shift schedules in the U.S. for police personnel. Explain theadvantages and disadvantages of those three thatare the most prominent.  
  • Compare permanent shifts versus rotating shifts,including advantages and drawbacks of both.
  • What is the role of police unions in shift scheduling?
  • What impact does shift work have on family members? Doyou think family should be considered in making decisions regarding whichshift an officer should be employed on? Why or why not

Week4 Discussion 1 Our discussion

our discussion first, then the students answers

Student wrote

Deploying and Scheduling Personnel

Identify the most favored and least favored shift schedules in the U.S.for police personnel. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of those threethat are the most prominent. 

Most favored schedule in the US is noted as the (5 -2 [8]) work schedulewhich means that you work 8 hours a day for 5 days with 2 days off.  Thisschedule provides for a set schedule and having enough ‘down time’ to be ableto relax and sleep.  The disadvantages with this schedule may only be thatif you want more time off it must be taken from annual or sick leave. Thegeneral times for this schedule range around 6a-2p, 2p-10p, 10p-6a withvariations depending on the specific agencies. In some agencies, additionalschedules may be implemented if it is noticed that an increase in criminalactivity revolves around certain schedules, this is called overlapping andwould look as such, having an additional schedule in the evening that coversthe times around midnight when bars are closing (10p – 6a) might also have ashift that came in from (7p – 3a) (Peak et al, 2010, p. 302).

Least favored schedule in the US is  noted as the (4 -3 [10]) workschedule which means that you work 10 hours a day for 4 days with 3 days off.This schedule provides more days off but the work times are longer. Despitesome officers preferring this schedule, the percentage of those agencies thatcurrently use it is only 27.2% (Peak et al, 2010, p. 302).

Compare permanent shifts versus rotating, including advantages anddrawbacks of both.

Police agencies do not have the luxury of taking days off. Theirresponsibility is to ensure and protect the public’s safety at all times of theday and night.  Accomplishing this responsibility forces every agency towork both day and night, which for some can be a challenge.  The humanbody is designed with an ‘internal clock’ known as its circadian rhythm,which tells us that day time is for being awake and night time is forsleeping.  This rhythm inherently conflicts with police work because ifyou work a rotating shift you will have to work night time shifts on a regularinterval. As Peak et al (2010) tells us,

‘The majority of officer’s work rotating shifts orat night, which means drowsiness and fatigue are a way of life. According toone study, 90 percent of officers reported driving on duty while drowsy;one-fourth said they had actually fallen asleep while at the wheel. This isobviously a problem that cannot be ignored—particularly if an officer has shiftwork sleep disorder (SWSD), and experiences problems falling asleep, stayingasleep, or waking up.’ (Peak et al, 2010, p. 304)

Because of the psychological and physiological effects that rotating shiftcan have on someone, perhaps permanent shifts may be better, as, if you arepermanently on day shift (6-2, 7-3, 8-4) then you will have your relax and downtime during your body’s normal down time phase (evening – night). The mainadvantage to rotating shift is that if officers want to experience theirenvironment at a different time of the day, to experience the variations ofactivity, this would be a good way to do it.

The most basic advantage to permanent shift schedules are their simplicity.There is no figuring out whose turn it is to switch shifts and officers do nothave to re-adjust their bodies sleep schedule on a regular basis. There is alsomore ease of schedule court appearances and the scientific proof that officersprefer permanent shifts over rotating (Peak et al, 2010, p. 305).

What is the role of police unions in shift scheduling?

No matter what shift schedule an agency uses there are laws and unions thathave a say in the decision making process of which type of schedule is used andprotecting the officers well – being to ensure their productivity while onduty. As a way to ensure sufficient pay for law enforcement officers, the FairLabor Standards Act (FLSA) that was initiated in the 1930’s to protectthe rights and working conditions of employees in the private sector, broughtlaw enforcement under its umbrella in 1985 via congress.  This forcedagencies to pay not time (hourly wage) and a half overtime, if officers workedbeyond 40 hours, but also a second overtime if the officer went past 43 hoursin a 7 day time frame, including K-9 units and equestrians (horses) (Peak etal, 2010, p. 305/6). This protection, although subsequently deemed ‘anightmare’ by many agencies, protected officers from being forced to workbeyond reasonable hours, for basic pay. Police unions, in this process, protectthe police officers (human, canine & equestrian) and make sure that allbenefits are provided and reinforced during contract negotiations.

What impact does shift work have on family members? Do you think familyshould be considered in making decisions regarding which shift an officershould be employed on? Why or why not?

I take this question on a personal note. My father who is a retired BaltimoreCity Police Detective Sergeant – Vice Squad spent his entire career workingrotating shifts (8-4, 4-12, 12-8). I saw him come and go at various times ofthe day, I saw him sleep in the very early mornings after working all night andI asked him one time, “how can you sleep with sunshine pouring through thewindow?”, and he said to me “it’s not normal but it’s my job and there are dayswhen I can barely think while I’m going to work, but I do it and I don’tcomplain because it was my decision to do this for my family”. Rotating shiftsare difficult for the officer and their family. The varying schedule messedwith their body, their brain, and yes their moods, which all affect theirfamily and relationships.  My father’s rotating shift was for 28 days at atime (1 month), and every 28 – days he changed his shift. The best shift forhim was day shift (8-4) it was the shift that felt most normal and helped hismood and allowed us to spend time with him. The worst shift for him wasmidnight (12-8) because he saw us for about 2 hours a day of which was eveninghours when us kids were usually otherwise occupied.  Should families beconsidered in making decisions regarding which shift an officer should beemployed on? Yes.  An officer has family, even if it is just parents thatthey talk to and relax with and when you take an officers physical andpsychological energy away from them, there is no communication, there is simplya shell. Years after my father retired he said to me, “I missed you kidsgrowing up and I wish I could have worked a set schedule”.  


Peak, K., Gaines, L. & Glensor, R. (2010). Police supervision andmanagement in an era of community policing (3rd ed.) Upper saddle, NJ: PearsonEducation, Inc. ISBN: 9780135154663

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