Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2005, $998,870)
Police officers are the frontline of safety for our communities and play a critical role in the security of our nation in an increasingly complex and dangerous world. Yet, the 24/7 operational demands of their jobs can result in serious consequences. A significant body of scientific and operational literature clearly establishes that around-the-clock operations in a variety of organizations can degrade safety, performance, health, mood, and alertness.
The primary experimental variable in this study is shift length. Accordingly, the main research question is whether variable shift length in police agencies has a meaningful influence on work performance indicators (e.g. sick leave, injuries, accidents, reaction time, complaints, shooting and driving simulations), and individual self report indicators of health, fatigue and quality of life (job stress, police daily hassles, job satisfaction, life satisfaction, and work-family conflict).
The grantee will secure participation of police departments willing to implement a randomized experimental design in order to evaluate the risks and benefits of current scheduling practices to more effectively manage shift work and non-standard schedules in police operations. The project would be implemented in two or three sites; two potential sites are identified in the proposal and the third will be determined.
The three randomized experiments would allow the grantee to develop valid estimates of the effects of (a) differential shift length and (b) the interaction between shift length and shift schedule (using a block randomized experimental design). The study would also consider the relevance of off duty employment and overtime.
Findings will be disseminated to law enforcement agencies, criminal justice and policy officials, and police researchers across the nation. The results of this project will provide a scientific basis to guide police administrators and policymakers in the use of the most beneficial and lowest risk scheduling policies and practices and for police leaders to better understand and manage the risks associated with 24/7 demands and provide a means for maximizing efficiency, effectiveness, and officer well-being.