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Over a period of approximately the last one decade fatigued American employees raised their concerns in regard to the shift systems. This issue emerged as most Americans were conscious of significant values such as the multiplicity of careers, health and fitness, time spent with the family as an institution as well as making advancement in ones career. Most of the employees who targeted these values were quick to realize that the existing 8-hour shift system favored none of these values at all. This led to an employee driven process to take root with the employees convincing organizations management that major scheduling needed a change in regard to the existing 8 and 10 hour shift systems (American Engineering Council, 2008).
During this period many organizations were in favor of the 12 hour compressed shift system with a work set of 2-4 days as opposed to the old 8-hour shift system rotating within work sets of 5-10 days. This concern had not only raised anxiety among employees but also among supervisors as well as spouses that had paid a first hand witness to the burn out and fatigue that toiled the work place. Police departments and municipalities were also not left out in taking up to the idea of the 12-hour shift system and immediately began their considerations and evaluations on the possible impacts that it would have in regard to law enforcement.
Most significantly police officers had more reasons to express their valid apprehensions over a number of topics as their schedules of work involves a greater impact in regard to their personal as well job life in addition to other non life variables that threaten their lives. Of mutual interest on the part of supervisors and officers was the issue of fatigue and the way it impacted on the process of decision making, safety and also productivity (American Engineering Council, 2008). To shift our focus on lighter note, fatigue in the police department emanating from practices and policies in the department has been identified as one of the major factors that impairs or degrades an individual's ability to work.
This therefore raises negative impacts on ones performance in an organization. Police department have therefore been establishing comprehensive shift systems, working hours and policies for fatigue management despite the understanding regarding the profound and long standing influence that round the clock systems have in regard to employees safety, performance health, family life as well as job satisfaction.
Bearing this the above in mind it is clear that the East End police department which case is the focus of this paper has neither been spared by the implications of the 12-hour shift system. As per the current reports, the senior management of the East End Department has raised its concerns over the lowered productivity of its police officers who have been operating under the 12-hour shift system. The station has four sergeants and twelve constables and each shift is guarded by one sergeant and three constables. With its four sergeants and 12 constables working for two days on and two days off shift there has been complains that following up on investigations has been difficult as a result of the short time that the officers are on duty. It has also been raise that commercial and domestic theft and burglaries. After a review of the impacts and the cost as a result of fatigue among the police, this paper will explore the issue in details and try to come up with some desirable recommendations that police supervisors managers and executives can implement to improve on the productivity among police offices.
The twelve hour shift system has been often considered advantageous over the 8 and 10 hour shift system as it allows the officers enough time to recover well from sleep loss, affords them more time to spend with their families as well as leaving them longer periods of usable time to do other things that are not in any way connected with their career (American Engineering Council, 2008). To the executives or managers of the police department the 12-hour shift system is advantageous for stations with low human resources as it requires fewer numbers of attendances hence saving on travel time and other costs. However on top of these merits and other not mention the 12 hour system also comes with its own demerits as the problem in the East End Police Department demonstrates I regard to safety and productivity.
The two day on two day off 12-hour shift system is a bit too long and one of the ways in which affects job performance is by reducing the productivity of an officer in that it reduces alertness especially if the job requires activities that are heavily physical. For instance when the police man is on patrol for those two days in a twelve hour shift this officer obviously does not get enough sleeping time and therefore his mental processes will be highly affected. His concentration will be low and his judgment and power of reason will also be affected as the body will eventually burn out hence bodily functions will not be normal out of lack of enough rest (Jacques, 2010).
The minimal resting hours that a human being is expected to sleep is 6-hours which the 12 hour shift system overlooks. Police officers especially those who are on patrol require to be very alert and sharp in responding to distress calls. Enough rest will be hence required so that they will be in their sober minds when making their rounds something which the two day on and two day off twelve hour system does not allow the officers of this particular station. This is most likely what has increased the burglary as burglars capitalize on the lack of sharp alertness and quick response to distress on the part of the police officers especially as they approach the end of their shifts.
Another problem that was cited by the executives of the East end police department was that the two days on and two days off twelve hour shift system was a bit short in regard to making follow ups on investigations and provision of feedbacks to customers. Some of the investigations are hard to crack and cannot be completed in two days. If a police officer is therefore working on a two days on and then going for a two day off, the investigation process will experience some delays since one investigation cannot be assigned to two different individual officers or two different partners. The officer(s) who start an investigation has to follow it up to the end which means that when his shift is over the investigations will have to wait for two days in order to resume hence will take a longer time.
This therefore makes the 12-hour system ineffective as it leaves the two days that an officer is on duty becomes a short time to follow up on investigations. More so when it comes to police officers presenting the cases or investigations in the courts the system result to delays especially in a case when an arrest was made at the end of the shift and hence if the police officer presenting the case goes on his two days off the court processes will have for those two days or else the officer will be denied his off days.
In cases where an officer on duty calls for a sick off this creates a major problem. As explained earlier each shift is headed by one sergeant and three constables out of the four sergeants and twelve constables as the only human resource in the station. When an officers calls for a sick leave his position will have to be filled by re-calling one of the resting officers from his day off as there are no spare officers to call upon. The time off for the 12-hour system therefore become too long if viewed from a productivity and a communications point of view (Jacques, 2010). The same case also happens if an officer is on holiday.
In this case if we consider an officer working on an 8-day shift system, if his partner goes on holiday or is on sick leave, the absent officer can be covered by making extensions on adjacent shifts. For instance a late shift officer's time can be covered through extending an early officer's shift for four hours and calling in a late officer's shift earlier by four hours. This however is not possible with a two day on and two day off 12-hour system since as explained above it requires calling a resting officer from his day off. In this case re-calling police officers from their sick offs or holidays cause them to struggle with burn outs causing them scheduling problems since the East End Police Department is still struggling with a reduce number of personnel hence the inefficiency.
In reaction to the above identified demerits of the 12-hour shift system, this paper has the following recommendations to make in a bid to try and improve the situation which is facing the East End Police Department. First of all even before exploring the many issues relating to the productivity of officers, the executives or supervisors in the East End police department shoud try and make commitments to rotation shifts that are either permanent or slow. This is because workings with shifts that are frequently rotated require making changes in the work cycle and the time dedicated to sleeping as often since as this will affect major mental processes like alertness, judgment and motivation.
The result as explored earlier in the paper translates to productivity losses and foundations that are poor when it comes to implementation of test programs. Ignoring this fact quickly leads to a lot of disaster as well as non acceptance of new work schedules or systems regardless of how well they have proved to work elsewhere. Since the offices in the East End police department are already experiencing difficulties with the 12-hour shift system their supervisors should try slowing down the rotation schedules or else switch to schedules that are straighter.
In regard to dealing with the problem of instances where police officers go on sick of putting pressure on those left on duty who have to have their resting time interfered with hence affecting their performance due to lack of enough rest fast rotating shifts should be made slower. Surveys have proven that sick leaves increase when working schedules operate on fast rotating shifts. In regard to this police officers in the East End police department have often complained that constant flip flopping that comes as result of fat rotating schedules leaves their bodies in a lot of turmoil hence they seek out sick leaves to help them get enough time for making adjustments to the constantly unending changes (Smith, 2010).
To remedy this, straight shift should be scheduled for and run for several weeks to make time psychological adjustments hence this would lead to a decrease in the length of time wasted on sick leaves. This is because decreases in the number of sick and annual leaves will afford the police department more manpower that is available especially for a department like the East End Police department that is struggling with a reduce number of personnel and others suffering from the same through attrition. Therefore instituting more permanent or rotating shifts that are lower will allow police officers more time for them to readily make adjustments and hence eliminate possible fatigue factors that will drive them to often ask for sick leaves.
In addition to the above the executives of this police department with the approval of the civil service board should consider inserting at least one 8 or else two of the 10 hour shift within every pay period, so that the four extra hours ca be eliminated or else converted to payable compensatory time. This would motivate the officers and hence raise the chance of putting the production levels back at its feet by while the department looses nothing in regard to monetary terms (Jacques, 2010). To remedy the problems of following up on cases officers who have their duty on night shifts and who are expected to present cases in court on regular working days should have their presentations made in a way that they make their appearances in court during early morning hours.
Their appearances should also come as close to their changing shifts time as possible. In addition to this improvement on the police officers court attendance in an accommodating manner is by making adjustments to their starting or else ending time close to the ending times during the evening shift. Such kind of accommodations should also be considered for bureau and desk personnel and more frequent breaks shroud be slotted in for specialist in communication.
In conclusion, the issue of 12-hour shifting system has been an area of major concern in regard to the police department and in this particular paper in regard to The East End Police Department. With the advantages of its adoption outweighing its disadvantages the East End police department has been struggling with the results after its adaptation where by the productivity of its police officers accord to the executive management has been deteriorating. The 12-hour shifting system has been found to be quite ineffective as it has resulted to lowered follow up in cases and investigations while theft and burglary cases have continued on the rise since its implementation. To remedy this paper has fist identified that fatigue could be the problem that has been affecting the officer's productivity through affecting their alertness, their healthy and safety hence resulting to lowered productivity which has contributed to the escalating problems identified above in the East End District.
The paper has therefore recommended that commitments should be made to rotational shifts that are either permanent of else slower to make changes in the work cycle (Jacques, 2010). Straight shit should also be introduces several times in a week in order to allow the officers time to make psychological adjustments in to prevent burn outs and to reduced time spent on sick leave. Officers ho have to make appearances in court should also be given consideration to present their cases early enough and closer to the end of their shifts in order to allow them enough time to go and rest and finally breaks should be made to communication specialists, bureau and desk personnel so as to help them blow off some steam as a way of enhancing their alertness and their concentration. In this way at least the officers will be able to work more effectively without struggling to give positive results.