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Scheduling Issues


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  • Scheduling Issues

    This question is in regards to what schedules work well for small departments.

    I work for a small department in a town with a population of about 5,600. We have 6 Full Time officers, with talk of hiring another full timer possibly late 2019. We also have approximately 4 part timers but also have a terrible retention rate for part timers as they typically stick around for a year or less and move on. The schedules we typically had in the past for full timers was: 7 days on, 2 off, 3 on, and 2 off, then repeat. With part timers filling in the gaps.

    We have 4 shifts as follows:
    1st: 1 officer and chief works 7a-3p
    2nd: 1 officer works 3p-11p
    3rd: 1 officer works 8p-4a
    4th: 1 officer works 11p-7a

    The biggest problem imo is no one officer works a consistent shift. So for example during your 7 day stretch you might work 3 of those days as 8p-4a, then 2 as 11p-7a, then the final 2 as 3p-11a. As you can imagine this leads to all kinds of problems with sleep schedules. By about day 6 most people are burnt out. There is really no predictability behind this as well. Our Chief has control of the schedule and has written off a lot of the complaints as merely that.

    I serve as a CPT in the National Guard and I've been gone from the department for nearly the past year due to a military deployment and have actually gotten some of the best sleep of my life on deployment. We work a consistent schedule and I've been getting my 8 hours and loving it. Kinda spoiled at this point. When talking to officers from back home I have learned the plan is to switch to 8 days on, 2 off, 7 days on, 2 off, 3 days on, 4 days off. All with the same chaos with shift jumping. Not one of the full timers I spoke with is a fan of this including myself. I have however learned from the military if you have a problem you better also have a solution. That is what myself and another officer are attempting to come up with and bring some solutions to our chief.

    We have so far modeled a 12 hour model and trying to work on an 8 hour model. Through research and failed attempts in creating a 10 hour model I've realized we are just way too small to pull off a 10 hour model.

    Here is what we would prefer the schedule to be.
    1. Consistent (no shift jumping)
    2. Rotating weekends off.
    3. Ability to rotate shift but in a controlled and predictable manner. (ie: people could work first shift for 3-6 months and then move to another shift)

    Does anyone have suggestions for a small department with scheduling? From my understanding this has been a drain on our departments officers and morale is in the gutter because of it.

    The other issue is the department is looking to get a K9. This is something I am interested in, but part of the position will require the officer to stay with the department for 5 years or if the officer leaves, they will be required to pay a cost of $15,000 to the department. If I am to apply for this position I certainly don't want to try bouncing myself and a K9 through a chaotic sleep schedule for at least the next 5 years. Any advice is appreciated.

  • #2
    The whole pay if you leave thing sounds like an indentured apprenticeship. It honestly gives me bad vibes.
    Anyways seems like a cool small town gig!


    • Scott Ryan
      Scott Ryan commented
      Editing a comment
      The whole pay thing is because the department had a K9 officer a number of years back that then got hired on to a different department, taking the dog with him. The dog is trained to the handler. This is to prevent an officer from getting selected and a different department then sniping the officer/K9 out from under them.

      Which I agree is kind of a strange vibe but I can understand where the they are coming from due to past experience.
      Last edited by Scott Ryan; 12-02-2018, 01:28 AM.

  • #3
    First, let me suggest a couple things.

    Some chiefs prefer the schedule you are on because its an easy way out for them – It ensures everyone gets their fair share of weekends, good shifts and bad shifts and allows their officers to become familiar with the happenings in their jurisdictions at all hours of the day and night. What their fail to consider is the toll it takes on their officers’ circadian clocks, denying them proper rest They also fail to consider that officers cannot be expected to dedicate themselves 100% to their employer. They have responsibilities to their families and they have personal lives. Rotating shifts and days off in this manner make it impossible to plan for personal and family matters in the future. In turn, this creates morale issues and frequent turnover.

    4/10 and 5/9 are only viable if you have peak call load periods where extra staffing created by the overlap is warranted. The price for that is that your daily staffing is cut by 20% & 10% respectively. That won’t work in an operation of your size.

    The next thought will make everyone happy and unhappy at the same time. Craft a five on – two off schedule for you six full timers. Using fixed days off, you should be able to craft full coverage for each shift with two positions working split shifts, either as a double back or a long back, depending on how you craft the schedule. You can then schedule your part time staff on a fixed basis as well, giving them some consistency and permanence.

    Subject to the needs of the department (training, corrective actions, specialization, etc.) bidding for shifts will be by seniority.

    No doubt there will be several objections to such an arrangements. Some folks will never see weekends off. Others will be stuck on a shift they deem undesirable. To them you can suggest the following:

    1. In a department of your size, pay, benefits and working conditions are usually such that there is no doubt a lot of turnover. More than likely, those that are at the bottom of the totem pole and who will get the worst shift will move closer to the top and be eligible for better shifts just as quickly as they would with a large agency.

    2. If necessary, you can institute a policy that says everyone must rebid for their shifts every 3, 4, or six months (the department’s choice) giving folks a chance to mix it up.

    3. If needed, you can specify that no person can work the same shift more than two bidding periods in a row, ensuring no one locks in the same shift forever.
    Last edited by L-1; 12-01-2018, 04:30 PM.
    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


    • #4
      Pitman schedule with shift pick (days or nights) by seniority or mandatory rotation every six months.
      Government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem. - Ronald Reagan

      I don't think It'll happen in the US because we don't trust our government. We are a country of skeptics, raised by skeptics, founded by skeptics. - Amaroq


      • #5
        I work for a small department also. I looked at different shifts like the 10 hour shifts etc for my department. The 10 hour shifts just were not feasable. The only one that worked best, gives every one the most days off and is easiest to plan days off with the family is the 12 hour shifts or Panama schedule. That's 2 on, 2 off and every other 3 day weekend.

        You could rotate nights and days every month, quarter or when ever you want to rotate them. Y'all can change on the Monday after your 3 day weekend.

        Chief can still work a regular 8 to 5, Monday through Friday type schedule if wants. You'll have one full timer on each shift and if you want more coverage fill in the gaps with part timers.


        One place I worked at used to do 8 hour shifts at 6 on and 3 off.

        I've heard of 1 department working 12 hour shifts with 3 on and 3 off.
        Last edited by westside popo; 12-01-2018, 11:45 PM.


        • #6
          Scott Ryan, your Agency's jurisdiction's population size, and staffing level, is close to some of my Municipal Contract Policing experience (1985 to 1993, 6500 population, 1 Corporal + 6 Constables). We worked in the same building as our Rural (1 Cpl + 6 Csts) and Highway Patrol (2 Csts) Units (with 1 Staff Sargeant in Command and 2 full-time clerks).
          We lost the 2 HP positions in 1986 due to Force-wide budget cuts.
          Rural was NOT supposed to take Muni calls, and vice-versa, unless life-or-death.
          1 Cst was seconded full-time as Court Liaison (alternated between the 2 Units.
          No 24 / 7 shift coverage on either side, with members being "voluntold" on-call, and from 1873 until about then we had NO official o-c compensation unless we responded AND the Cpl or S/Sgt APPROVED the overtime (NOT guaranteed!).
          Sorry, no solution for you here, just sympathy, along with a sad story!
          #32936 - Royal Canadian Mounted Police - 1975-10-27 / 2010-12-29
          Proud Dad of #54266 - RCMP - 2007-02-12 to date
          RCMP Veterans Association - Regina Division member
          Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada - Associate (Retired) member
          "Smile" - no!


          • #7
            IMO, the Panama schedule is the best I've ever worked while in patrol.

            With six full timers, you could have Alpha/ Bravo shifts plus a swing shift for peak times (two officers working at peak call volume)

            Alpha Day - 0600 to 1800 Bravo Day - 0600 to 1800
            > Alpha swing shift of 1400 to 0200 >bravo swing shift 1400-0200
            Alpha Night - 1800 to 0600 Bravo Night - 1800 to 0600

            Any part-timers and the chief are just gravy at this point

            A & B shifts rotate two on , two off, and every over weekend is three days (Fri, Sat, Sun) off.

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