U.S. flag

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

Improving Shift Schedule and Work-Hour Policies and Practices to Increase Police Officer Performance, Health, and Safety

NCJ Number
Date Published
March 2002
21 pages
This article discusses policies and practices to minimize police officer fatigue.
Fatigue is a mental and/or physical state resulting from insufficient good-quality sleep or from prolonged or intense physical, emotional, or mental effort. It tends to decrease alertness, impair performance potential, worsen mood, and interfere with decision-making. The major administratively controllable factors responsible for police officer fatigue are biologically insensitive shift rotation schemes, excessive overtime assignments, frequent off-duty court appearances, and the use of extra and double shifts to cope with personnel shortages. Conservative estimates put the cost of sleep deprivation at more than $100 billion annually. The article suggests areas in which police supervisors can help minimize job-related fatigue: (1) regulating work hours, which may involve establishing how much work officers are allowed to do in a given time period; (2) adjusting shift length, rotation, direction, and pattern; (3) matching personnel to shifts compatible with their biology and interests; (4) educating officers about the hazards of failing to cope with fatigue; and (5) developing fatigue or alertness management plans. Figure, notes, references

Date Published: March 1, 2002