Twelve Hour Police Shifts Draw Controversy

Discussion in 'Hot Topics' started by kwflatbed, Dec 29, 2005.

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  1. kwflatbed

    kwflatbed Subscribing Member MC1+MC2 +MC3 111K+Poster

    The Record


    The hot new thing in police schedules is the 12-hour shift. Police love it because working three 12-hour days a week instead of five eight-hour shifts gives them more days off. And some North Jersey towns that have adopted the schedule, such as Ramsey and Lodi, say it improves police morale and cuts overtime costs.

    But communities considering this change should use caution.

    As Staff Writer Deena Yellin reported on Dec. 18, at least three police departments around the nation - in Jackson, Miss., Detroit and Juneau, Alaska - tried 12-hour shifts and abandoned them.

    That should send a warning that having officers work just three days a week isn't good for every community.

    One concern is officer fatigue. Unlike firefighters or certain health care workers with long shifts, police carry guns. Some drive alone on patrol for hours, and they may engage in high-speed car chases.

    At the end of a 12-hour shift, officers' reactions might be slowed, their capacity to make split-second judgments compromised. That could endanger their safety and the public's.

    Another worry is that with so many days off, police can become less connected to their jobs.

    This is especially likely if the greater number of days off serves as an incentive to take second, part-time jobs.

    Emerson, which recently approved the change to 12-hour shifts, requires at least eight hours between the time an officer leaves an outside job, such as performing road detail for a utility company, and reports for police work.

    But an eight-hour break is not enough before a round of two or three 12-hour police shifts.

    Still another concern is inflexible department scheduling.

    With 12-hour shifts, more officers are on duty at any given time. The advantage is if one officer calls in sick, there should still be enough working without calling someone in on overtime.

    But the downside is that a department might have more officers than it needs during quiet times, and no flexibility to bolster staffing during busy shifts, such as on the day of a town parade.

    Inflexible scheduling is one reason Juneau did away with 12-hour shifts. Another problem in Juneau was that frequent days off caused delays in officers finishing investigations and completing reports.

    Towns interested in trying the new schedule can take steps to ward off problems. For one thing, they should require that officers get permission before accepting second jobs, a rule Ramsey has for all municipal workers.

    All communities also should have a minimum 12-hour break from outside work before police duty.

    And to keep police connected to their work, communities should avoid giving officers four straight days off. Allowing no more than three days off at a time is better.

    It's understandable why police departments want 12-hour shifts, and why towns eager to cut overtime costs are willing to go along.

    But the paramount concern must be safety - for the public and for the officers themselves.
  2. laxball33

    laxball33 MassCops Member

    The schedule sounds appealing, but 12 hours is a long time to be sitting in a car. The occasional overtime shift is one thing but doing that on a regular basis? I think the schedule would wear on a person quickly.
  3. s1w

    s1w MassCops Member

    The ideas sounds good, I would definitely give that schedule a try. I'm sure there will be long days, but time off is the most valuable asset of this job. If officers are deployed in an efficient manner there should be no problems with this schedule. This idea of police disconnected to their jobs with the time off and being lethargic while on 12 hour shifts is complete nonsense. That's just citizens excuse for being extremely jealous of officers having such a benefit.
  4. chief801

    chief801 Subscribing Member

    I did some research on the 4/12 plan a few years ago. The way it works is that for 3 weeks you work 3 twelve hour shifts, then, on your fourth week, you work 4 12 hour shifts. The departments that had it reported up to 25% reduction in sick leave use. Another by-product was that one department was having trouble getting people to put in for the detective unit because they did not want to give up their schedule.

    When I brought it up my union at the time, the young guys wanted to go for it, the older guys wanted nothing to do with working 12 hour shifts.

    You get plenty of coverage because now you are only staffing two twelve hour shifts per day instead of staffing 3 eight hour shifts.

    If anyone wants more specifics, let me know, I'll see if I still have the file.
  5. Pvt. Cowboy

    Pvt. Cowboy Lemme take a selfie Staff Member

    Try sitting in an office for twelve hours. :wacko: <--- That's the result!
  6. THE RP

    THE RP MassCops Member

    I have heard four tens is a good middle ground. It is being done and it works however it is a huge change and when it means work for an administration due to the change it will get shot down. If it turns into a battle the press gets used against the plan and vilifies the working stiffs making it out to be a perk laden plan when it actually means better coverage. It gets messy and it gets painful. The politicians run for cover when they know it's the right thing to do but the press gets everyone up in arms against the cops and they then start on details and court time....It's all about people being naturally resistant to change never mind change in a bureaucracy...This twelves thing might be a bit heavy if you ask me...Tens would blow by and seem almost the same as eight especially when it's busy but twelve is a stretch I think especially four twelves at the tail end of the rotation..Good luck to them and good luck to any police out there that can more days off in a row.
  7. Webster

    Webster MassCops Member

    "Emerson, which recently approved the change to 12-hour shifts, requires at least eight hours between the time an officer leaves an outside job, such as performing road detail for a utility company, and reports for police work."

    Must be Emerson Mass since we're the only state to have road details.
  8. mpd61

    mpd61 Federal Auxiliary Police

    Twelve hour shifts? sounds like a good option to me. What makes me laugh about the controversy is that it's O.K. for Nurses to work 12 hour "incentive" shifts, Yet if Cops try, there's an uproar!
  9. CJIS

    CJIS MassCops Member

    Hmmm... forced 12 hour shifts might stink, but optional 12 hour shifts sound good to me.
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