U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Impact of Shift Length in Policing on Performance, Health, Quality of Life, Sleep, Fatigue, and Extra-Duty Employment

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2012
201 pages
This report presents data on the prevalence of a compressed workweek (CWW) for law enforcement officers, which extends the hours for a shift and reduces the number of work days per week, and presents the findings and methodology for the first known comprehensive randomized experiment to determine the effects of shift length (8-hour, 10-hour, and 12-hour shifts) on officers' work performance, safety, health, quality of life, sleep, fatigue, off-duty employment, and overtime use.
Based on research conducted in two law enforcement agencies (Detroit, MI, and Arlington, TX), the findings showed no significant differences between the three shift lengths regarding work performance, health, safety, and family conflict; however, officers working 10-hour shifts averaged significantly longer sleep periods and reported experiencing a better quality of work life than did the officers working 8-hour shifts. Officers working 12-hour shifts experienced greater levels of sleepiness (subjective measure of fatigue) and lower levels of alertness at work than those assigned to 8-hour shifts. Officers who worked 10-hour shifts spent less time in off-duty employment and in working overtime. This can result in cost savings and potentially more family and leisure time for officers working on a 10-hour shift. A 10-hour shift may be a viable alternative to the traditional 8-hour shift in larger agencies; however, caution is advised in adopting 12-hour shifts. Reduced levels of overtime use for officers working 10-hour and 12-hour shifts suggest agencies will save costs by adopting CWWs. The study used a randomized block experiment at the two sites in order to examine the effects of the three shift lengths on various outcomes. Work performance was measured using both laboratory simulations and departmental data. Health, quality of life, sleep, sleepiness, off-duty employment, and overtime hours were measured by self-reports, including surveys, sleep diaries, and alertness logs. 130 references, 25 tables, 1 figure, and appended study materials

Date Published: January 1, 2012