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Nov 7th, 2014
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Question description

Deploying and Scheduling Personnel

 
Write a response to the following prompt:

  • Identify the most favored and least favored shift schedules in the U.S. for police personnel. Explain the advantages and disadvantages of those three that are 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? Do you think family should be considered in making decisions regarding which shift an officer should be employed on? Why or why not

Week 4 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 three that are the most prominent. 

Most favored schedule in the US is noted as the (5 -2 [8]) work schedule which means that you work 8 hours a day for 5 days with 2 days off.  This schedule provides for a set schedule and having enough ‘down time’ to be able to relax and sleep.  The disadvantages with this schedule may only be that if you want more time off it must be taken from annual or sick leave. The general times for this schedule range around 6a-2p, 2p-10p, 10p-6a with variations depending on the specific agencies. In some agencies, additional schedules may be implemented if it is noticed that an increase in criminal activity revolves around certain schedules, this is called overlapping and would look as such, having an additional schedule in the evening that covers the times around midnight when bars are closing (10p – 6a) might also have a shift 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]) work schedule 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. Despite some officers preferring this schedule, the percentage of those agencies that currently use it is only 27.2% (Peak et al, 2010, p. 302).

Compare permanent shifts versus rotating, including advantages and drawbacks of both.

Police agencies do not have the luxury of taking days off. Their responsibility is to ensure and protect the public’s safety at all times of the day and night.  Accomplishing this responsibility forces every agency to work both day and night, which for some can be a challenge.  The human body 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 for sleeping.  This rhythm inherently conflicts with police work because if you work a rotating shift you will have to work night time shifts on a regular interval. As Peak et al (2010) tells us,

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

Because of the psychological and physiological effects that rotating shift can have on someone, perhaps permanent shifts may be better, as, if you are permanently on day shift (6-2, 7-3, 8-4) then you will have your relax and down time during your body’s normal down time phase (evening – night). The main advantage to rotating shift is that if officers want to experience their environment at a different time of the day, to experience the variations of activity, 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 not have to re-adjust their bodies sleep schedule on a regular basis. There is also more ease of schedule court appearances and the scientific proof that officers prefer 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 that have a say in the decision making process of which type of schedule is used and protecting the officers well – being to ensure their productivity while on duty. As a way to ensure sufficient pay for law enforcement officers, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) that was initiated in the 1930’s to protect the rights and working conditions of employees in the private sector, brought law enforcement under its umbrella in 1985 via congress.  This forced agencies to pay not time (hourly wage) and a half overtime, if officers worked beyond 40 hours, but also a second overtime if the officer went past 43 hours in a 7 day time frame, including K-9 units and equestrians (horses) (Peak et al, 2010, p. 305/6). This protection, although subsequently deemed ‘a nightmare’ by many agencies, protected officers from being forced to work beyond reasonable hours, for basic pay. Police unions, in this process, protect the police officers (human, canine & equestrian) and make sure that all benefits are provided and reinforced during contract negotiations.

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

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

References:

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

List the bad and good of the students discussion . I listed our discussion, then the students list any referencs you use


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