How Many Hours Do Police Officers Work?

Law enforcement is an essential part of society, responsible for ensuring the safety and security of citizens. Police officers typically work full hours, with their schedules varying depending on the size of their police department and the needs of their community. However, the nature of their work is such that they often have to put in long hours, work overnight shifts and be available at all hours of the day. Because of their 24-hour scheduling requirements, a police officer’s hours can vary greatly between departments.

What does a police officer’s schedule look like?

Most law enforcement departments use a rotating police schedule, which means they work a certain number of days in a row and then have a certain number of days off. This is known as a “rotating shift” or “rotating roster.” The length of these shifts can vary, but they are usually 8-12 hours long. Some police departments have adopted a 10-hour shift schedule, which allows for longer periods of time off in between shifts. A police officer’s schedule varies based on the needs of their community and the size of their department. 

A police officer’s work schedule also rotates days and nights. This means that they may work 2-3 night shifts in a row, followed by a day shift, and then have a few days off. This rotating schedule allows for the department to be staffed around the clock, ensuring there is always a police officer available to respond to emergencies.

How many hours do police officers work?

The number of hours police officers work can vary widely depending on their department and the type of work they are doing. Generally, however, police officers work long hours and are often required to work overnight shifts, weekends and holidays. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average full-time police officer works around 40 hours a week, which translates to 8 hours a day for 5 days a week.

However, in the last decade, we have seen a significant drop in police recruitment numbers, as well as police retention rates. There has been an outflow of police officers retiring earlier and earlier, and at the same time, the recruitment numbers at police academies have dropped significantly. The police shortage has been felt in law enforcement departments across the nation, with many departments having to mandate overtime in order to fill department coverage requirements. By mandating overtime, law enforcement departments are seeing a significant increase in hours worked by police officers.

The impact of long police hours

A police officer’s schedule can be demanding and may take a toll on their physical and mental health. Police officers may have to work long hours, be available at all hours of the day and night, and be ready to respond to emergencies at a moment’s notice. The work can also be physically demanding, requiring officers to be on their feet for long periods of time and make split-second decisions that can have life-or-death consequences.

Long police hours in a high-stress environment can lead to physical and mental health problems for police officers. According to a study by The Buffalo Cardio-Metabolic Occupational Police Stress (BCOPS), the combination of the nature of policing and a police officer’s work hours puts law enforcement officers at risk of developing many health conditions. These health conditions can include increased risk for stress and depression, increased risk for heart disease, sleep issues and more.

Can scheduling software reduce police officer hours?

Reducing police officer hours is dependent on a number of factors. These factors can include the needs of the community, department recruitment and retention, extra-duty assignments and more. This being said, by implementing scheduling software, police leaders will be able to manage their regular patrol schedules and overtime assignments more effectively. Police scheduling software removes the likelihood of double-bookings, increases scheduling visibility, improves communication and allows administrators to make scheduling edits in real time. Using InTime’s police scheduling software, the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office saw a 90% reduction in overtime management and a 60% reduction in administrative workload. 

Automated scheduling software also leaves no room for error in the scheduling process. The software automatically builds out police schedules based on agency rules and requirements, mitigating risk and liability. Some police scheduling software also automatically flags when a police officer is being scheduled too much and is at risk of fatigue and wellness issues.

The Bottom Line

Police officer hours are long and often consist of overnight shifts, weekends and holidays. Their work schedule is typically a rotating shift or roster, which allows for the department to be staffed around the clock. However, the long hours and high-stress environment can take a toll on their physical and mental health. Police officers are at a higher risk for certain health problems and mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. It is important for police departments to address these issues and provide support for officers to ensure their well-being and safety. 

Reach out to our team to learn more about InTime Wellness and how our wellness module can help your department schedule your officers better.

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