When police officers work longer shifts is public safety at risk? | Street Jazz

Thursday, February 13, 2014

When police officers work longer shifts is public safety at risk?

Posted By on Thu, Feb 13, 2014 at 11:48 AM

I once had a warehouse job which required me to work three 13 and a half hour shifts three days a week, as well as one 12 hour shift one Saturday out of the month. My partner in the warehouse at night, facing hours at a time when absolutely nothing required anything at all of us to do but twiddle our thumbs, hit upon a scheme to keep our wits sharp (as well as maintaining our senses of humor - something which can quickly be drained out of someone who had the hours we were working:

We would each take a turn, when possible, and take one brief half hour nap atop a pallet of cardboard boxes in the rear of the darkened warehouse. Sorry, Tyson Foods . . . I ain’t giving you any of my pay back.

I only dredge up this bit of personal history, because I have been thinking about the recent national trend of having police officers work lengthened shifts, which is mostly a cost-cutting measure on the part of police departments. Longer shifts can mean less overtime, to put it bluntly, in most cases.

Yes, this is the point at which some dreary ideologue can jump in with some prattle about police forces in general, but let’s hope they have something better to do today.

There seem to be two schools of thought about the entire matter of working longer hours:

A) If you are a factory worker, it can be bad for you, for your sleep, for your health, for your social interactions, and your ability to pay attention.

B) If you are a police officer, it is just fine and dandy. Nothing to see here, folks. Just move along, now.

True, police officers don’t face the prospect of hours of mind-numbing repetitive work, but they do occasionally find themselves in situations fraught with danger . . . and they carry weapons.

And yet, if ordinary folks who work shift work and longer hours can be subject to such things as reduced quality in their sleep, general fatigue, increased anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal disorders, or increasing levels of neuroticism, why shouldn’t police officers be prone to these same things, as well?

Longer shifts and longer hours are popular with many in civic government (just as in the private sector) because they cut back on overtime, but somewhere down the line, somebody, somewhere in some administration . . . somewhere . . . has to ask if it is really as good an idea as the bean counters claim.

Cuz sooner or later, some cop is gonna use these increased shifts as part of a criminal defense.


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