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Understanding the Effects of Fatigue on Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Date Published
May 2017
2 pages
In this video, Steven James (Assistant Research Professor, Washington State University, College of Medicine) and Lois James (Assistant Professor, Washington State University, College of Nursing) discuss their research on the prevalence and effects of fatigue and sleep deprivation on law enforcement officers' critical decisions and performance of skill tasks.
The research involved the use of devices that measured fatigue and simulated various tasks performed by police officers while fatigued. The simulations compared the performance of officers in critical tasks when fatigued and under healthy conditions of rest and alertness. The research concluded that officers are almost always operating with some degree of fatigue, which adversely impacts critical decisions such as when to use deadly force and driving reflexes and alertness. The testing showed that fatigue could adversely impact driving skills, reflexes, and alertness in much the same way as alcohol and some drugs. These researchers view the prevalence and effects of fatigue among police officers as a threat to the safety of those with whom the officers interact as well as the officers themselves. These research findings led the researchers to the conclusion that countering fatigue among law enforcement officers should be a top priority in organizational training, work scheduling, and physical and mental health regimens.

Date Published: May 1, 2017