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Shift work and overtime across a career in law enforcement: a 15-year study

Samantha M. Riedy (Unit for Experimental Psychiatry, Division of Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
Desta Fekedulegn (Bioanalytics Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA)
Bryan Vila (Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Sleep and Performance Research Center, Washington State University, Spokane, Washington, USA)
Michael Andrew (Bioanalytics Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA)
John M. Violanti (Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, School of Public Health and Health Professions, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, Buffalo, New York, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 24 February 2021

Issue publication date: 19 March 2021

275

Abstract

Purpose

To characterize changes in work hours across a career in law enforcement.

Design/methodology/approach

N = 113 police officers enrolled in the BCOPS cohort were studied. The police officers started their careers in law enforcement between 1994 and 2001 at a mid-sized, unionized police department in northwestern New York and continued to work at this police department for at least 15 years. Day-by-day work history records were obtained from the payroll department. Work hours, leave hours and other pay types were summarized for each calendar year across their first 15 years of employment. Linear mixed-effects models with a random intercept over subject were used to determine if there were significant changes in pay types over time.

Findings

A total of 1,617 individual-years of data were analyzed. As the police officers gained seniority at the department, they worked fewer hours and fewer night shifts. Total paid hours did not significantly change due to seniority-based increases in vacation time. Night shift work was increasingly in the form of overtime as officers gained seniority. Overtime was more prevalent at the beginning of a career and after a promotion from police officer to detective.

Originality/value

Shiftwork and long work hours have negative effects on sleep and increase the likelihood of on-duty fatigue and performance impairment. The results suggest that there are different points within a career in law enforcement where issues surrounding shiftwork and long work hours may be more prevalent. This has important implications for predicting fatigue, developing effective countermeasures and measuring fatigue-related costs.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

∗Currently at the Behavioral Biology Branch, Center for Military Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.∗∗Shared Senior AuthorshipThis work was supported by the CDC/NIOSH under grant number 1R01OH009640-01A1 and by the NIJ under grant number 2005-FS-BX-0004.Disclaimer: The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Defense.

Citation

Riedy, S.M., Fekedulegn, D., Vila, B., Andrew, M. and Violanti, J.M. (2021), "Shift work and overtime across a career in law enforcement: a 15-year study", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 44 No. 2, pp. 200-212. https://doi.org/10.1108/PIJPSM-08-2020-0134

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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