Police Schedulers, Listen Up! More Alertness, Less Overtime

According to two recent studies, there’s a sleep disorder epidemic among police officers, but a simple shift length switch may be a simple fix to keep officers alert on the job. The studies investigated sleep disorders among law enforcement officers, and the impact of various shift lengths on  officer alertness.

One of the studies, which tracked around 5,000 police officers over two years, found that 40-percent screened positive for sleep disorders. Since less than half that amount, only 15-20 percent, of the general population suffers from these disorders, it appears that the stressful, variant schedule common in law enforcement may be taking a toll on police officers.

The second study looked into how different shift lengths may impact alertness for officers at work. Not surprisingly, officers  who worked 8-hour shifts were less sleepy and more alert than those working the longer 12-hour shifts. However, this shorter 8-hour shift didn’t hold all the benefits in the study. The 10-hour shift workers reported a higher quality of work life than those on the shorter shift. What’s more, management may benefit from assigning 10-hour shifts as well; the study found that officers who worked 10-hour shifts reported the least amount of overtime of the three different shift lengths.

If you a schedule planner for law enforcement, tell us in the comments what you do to keep your staff alert. Have you seen an impact of various shift lengths on your officers?

To see how When I Work helps simplify police officer scheduling, click here.