National Survey of Police Agencies

Trends in Shift Length: Results of a Random National Survey of Police Agencies


National Institute of Justice


Karen L. Amendola, Meghan G. Slipka, Edwin E. Hamilton, Michael Soelberg, Kristen Koval

Although only 25 percent of a sample of 160 agencies had adopted compressed schedules (9 or more hours) in a 1983 national survey, by 2009 the current survey showed an increase to just over 70 percent. With an 86-percent response rate from 300 agencies with 50 or more sworn personnel in 2005 and a 100-percent response rate in 2009, it was clear that there was a trend away from traditional 8-hour shifts, from 40 percent of agencies down to 29 percent of agencies. The size of the agency had an influence on the shift lengths, with the largest agencies (201 or more sworn officers) opting primarily for 10-hour shifts in both 2005 and 2009 (35 percent and 33 percent, respectively). The smaller agencies (50-100 sworn personnel) had a strong, but decreasing, preference for 8-hour shifts (41 percent and 32 percent, respectively). Although small and mid-size agencies (101-200 sworn personnel) showed an increase in 12-hour shifts over the period, there was a reduction in large agencies that relied on 12-hour shifts. The percentage of agencies using a combination of shifts almost doubled over the 4-year period; and there was also a significant increase in the percentage of agencies opting for other shift lengths. The research following the survey compared the effects on officer functioning of 8-, 10-, and 12-hour shifts in two metropolitan police agencies (See NCJ-242603).

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