Leverage for Efficiency, Accountability and Performance (LEAP) Fund for performance audits
Police agencies throughout the U.S. have adopted variations on the traditional five day, eight hour work schedule. Compressed schedules have become increasingly attractive to both police agencies and police personnel for a variety of reasons.
Despite increased demand for their services, shrinking budgets have made it difficult for police departments to meet their staffing needs. According to Shiftwork Solutions, smaller departments often set minimum staffing levels but find this does not effectively address their real, and variable, staffing needs. Instead, busy periods can be understaffed while other periods are overstaffed. Departments are then forced to choose between overtime or reduced service levels for the community.
Another option involves the use of alternative scheduling to re-distribute personnel from less busy times (typically 3:00 am to 10:00 am) to the higher workload periods (typically 10:00 am to midnight). While many police departments are using 10 hour and 12 hour shift lengths, most jobs can be performed equally well on short and long shift patterns as long as the total number of hours remains the same.
City of Lakewood, Ohio
The Lakewood Police Department (LPD) implemented a flexible work schedule in 2007, where the Police Chief schedules police officers to work either a traditional 8-hour shift (5 days per week/80 hours per pay period) or a modified work schedule of six 12-hour shifts and one 8- hour shift (80 hours per pay period). This modified work schedule increases the number of police officers that are available for response during peak times of the day.
However, the impact of the modified work schedule on the City’s overtime and sick leave has been inconclusive. For example, LPD’s average overtime was 89 hours per FTE in 2006 while sick leave was 23 hours per FTE, the year prior to implementing the modified work schedule. In 2007, the rate of overtime per FTE remained approximately the same (88.8), but sick leave increased to 34 hours per FTE. However, from January through April 2008, LPD’s overtime and sick leave usage were on pace to decline to 62 and 19 hours per FTE respectively.
A Look at the 12-Hour Shift: The Lincoln Police Department Study provides an overview of the experience of the Lincoln, Nebraska police department’s experience with alternative scheduling.
The Lincoln Police Department (LPD) is made up of over 300 personnel in a city of roughly 230,000. After reaching an agreement with the police union, and getting their input on the scheduling options, the department adopted a twelve-hour shift option and a schedule with three fixed days off and one “pivot” day (Saturday). This change impacted 37 officers and supervisors while the rest of the department continued with a more traditional schedule (8-hour with some 10-hour shifts sprinkled in).
While the sample size makes definitive extrapolations difficult, their experience was that sick leave use initially decreased after the 12-hour shift was implemented, but by the end of 2006, it had rebounded to slightly more than the average used by the same police team in the three previous years. There was no significant change in overtime.
Overall, measures of proactive policing such as traffic tickets and intelligence reports remained at the same levels. Some officers reported a new enthusiasm for the job with the 12-hour shifts that had a measurably positive effect on their work output, but there was no evidence that satisfaction with the work schedule affected the total output of the team.
- Law Enforcement Shift Schedules: Results of a Random Nationwide Survey of Police Agencies
- Seattle Police Department Shift Schedule