There is no denying that wellness for any human being is important, but when considering our safety personnel, how crucial is maintaining mental and physical wellness on the job? When constantly faced with danger, it is imperative that law enforcement officers always remain sharp and alert. Crime never sleeps, and for that reason, police officers must be working around the clock to keep civilians safe.
Night shifts in particular can take a heavy toll on an officer’s health, and when it becomes a steady routine, there can be negative side effects to the officer, their department, and the civilians they are trying to keep safe.
According to the National Police Foundation, studies have shown that increased productivity and alertness come from a work shift length of 10 hours, rather than 8 or 12 hours. A 10-hour shift benefits both the officer and the department, as officers reported feeling no change in quality of life between an 8 to 10-hour shift. Yet, an 8-hour shift requires more hours in overtime and would cost the department more money. Although a 12-hour shift may reduce hours of overtime, officers reported feeling drowsy and unalert, putting them in increased danger on the job.
Automated scheduling systems, such as POSS (Police Officer Scheduling System), can monitor and regulate the length of an officer’s shift to ensure that not only are compliance rules met, but so is the officer’s highest level of efficiency. POSS provides customized reports on time, attendance and employee performance, allowing departments to monitor the amount of time worked compared to time off, and evaluate how much down time an officer is receiving weekly.