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Economics of Patrol Scheduling, Part 1

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 57 Issue: 9 Dated: September 2009 Pages: 116-118,120,122
Patrick Solar
Date Published
September 2009
6 pages
Compared to 8-hour and 10-hour shift plans, this article presents reasons why the 12-hour shift plan is the most cost-effective police patrol scheduling solution.
The 12-hour shift plan is rapidly gaining momentum among police agencies and patrol personnel. Officers like the idea of having lots of regularly scheduled time off (nearly 80 more days off a year) and 3-day weekends every other week. Officers are scheduled for either day shift or night shift. An overlap shift can provide supervisory coverage, staffing enhancements during busy times of the day, and scheduling flexibility. Moving to an extended 12-hour shift plan can be expected to improve officer morale, reduce sick-time use, and possibly result in increased productivity. In a recent survey of overtime costs under various shift plans, the 8-hour shift plans, on average, required the most overtime to maintain; the 10-hour plans required approximately 7 percent less than the 8-hour plans, but the 12-hour plans required 25 percent less overtime than the traditional 8-hour plans. This article also examines how many officers are needed on duty at any given time under various shift plans. Using a one officer per shift minimum staffing level, this article determines that 4.87 officers are needed on duty for an 8-hour shift, 6.09 are required for a 10-hour shift, but only 4.60 officers are needed for the 12-hour plan.