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Thread: 12 Hours Shift Schedule Options

  1. #1
    Site Supporter
    Join Date
    Feb 2016
    Metro Detroit

    12 Hours Shift Schedule Options

    Iím looking for suggestions for twelve hours shifts; the catch is that it canít be what we are working now and what I think is the traditional method:

    Week 1: work M/Tu, off W/Th, work F/Sa/Su
    Week 2: off M/Tu, work W/Th, off F/Sa/Su

    For context, the Chief wants sergeants to work a staggered shift from the officers. Currently we work a schedule where we have four platoons (two days, two nights) with a sergeant assigned to each platoon and we work the schedule above. The chief wants the two dayshift sergeants to see each dayshift platoon and the same for nights. So the sergeants will be going to a new schedule and we are hoping to get some input on what it will be. Traditionally if we are short a sergeant for some reason then one will work what we call a float schedule that is offset one day from patrol:

    Week 1: work Tu/W, off Th/F, Work Sa/Su/M
    Week 2: off Tu/W, work Th/F, off Sa/Su/M

    This is an option going forward but I think there might be better schedules out there, especially for nights. On nightshift with the float schedule, the biggest benefit of the 12 hour shifts (every other weekend off) is lost because you spend the majority of your Saturday sleeping. It is possible that the dayshift and nightshift sergeants can work different schedules based on what works best for their respective shifts and we donít necessarily have to be identical. With all of that being said, Iím trying to look for options that I may not have thought of yet and bringing them to my partners to discuss. This is what I have thought of so far:

    Semi-fixed weekdays:

    Sgt 1: work every M/Tu, off every W/Th, rotate F/Sa/Su
    Sgt 2: off every M/Tu, work every W/Th, rotate F/Sa/Su

    Pros: Five days in a row off, fixed days off help with scheduling child care/school/etc., every other weekend off

    Cons: Five days in a row on duty (bigger problem for night shift)

    Fixed schedule:

    Sgt 1: Work M/Tu/W and every other Th, off F/Sa/Su
    Sgt 2: Off M/Tu/W and every other Th, work F/Sa/Su

    Change back and forth every two/three/four(?) months. The back-and-forth day could also be Monday instead of Thursday or something else.

    Pros: Fixed days off help with scheduling child care/school/etc., and three to four days off in a row every week.

    Cons: You are stuck working every weekend for several months at a time, and dayshift is busy during the week and nightshift is busy during the weekend so you will be pretty bored on days work F/Sa/Su or nights M/Tu/W.

    There has to be something better, right?

    P.S. The sergeants not being assigned to a platoon is not up for debate and I have no input on the decision

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2014
    Without really understanding what the driver is for looking at a different schedule, I will simply say this. The crazy swing shifts that most LE seem to work is a recipe for disaster in many ways. Want your officers making poor decisions or reacting badly to a situation, roll them out there without sufficient sleep (because your shift schedule sucks and messes with sleep schedule - not too mention cops working second jobs). Anyone in a position to impact shift schedules for LE really ought to have a handle on the degree to which sleep impacts short-term and long-term brain function and health; and then design the schedule around giving officers the opportunity to get seven to eight hours of sleep.

    Check out the very recent Peter Attia podcasts where he interviews neuroscience guy Chris Matthews. Here is the first of the series:

    There are three consecutive podcasts where they talk about the importance of sleep and they are talking at a level that a high schooler can understand. If someone can listen to any of these and still think that designing shifts around the ability to get sufficient sleep is unimportant, then there is nothing else to talk about in that regard. They make it abundantly clear that you can't just suck it up buttercup and power through on jacked up sleep - and still get good outcomes. - Jocko notwithstanding. Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    I don't have much to offer but this. Having worked 12's on and off for 15 years I can say that day shift officers seem more tired and get less rest than nights officers. I routinely hear nights guy say they don't wake up to an alarm unless there is training/court/family event etc. No doubt there are exceptions though. The Chief doesn't sound like he wants to bend, unfortunate since he doesn't have to work the schedule. Good luck.

  4. #4
    Site Supporter LtDave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Central AZ
    I don't get these god awful rotating shifts. WHY???
    I worked 12 hour shifts for a number of years. We always used fixed days off for each team, so the same people worked with the same supervisor every workday. 5 teams covered all patrol shifts. Shifts were 12.5 hours long, 0600 to 1830 for the day teams and 1800 to 0630 for the night teams. Team 5 was the relief team, covering days on Friday, an overlap shift on Saturday night and night shift on Sundays. They worked 0600 to 1830 Friday, 1400 to 0230 Saturday and 1800 to 0630 Sunday to Monday. Shift rotation was every 6 months and you could stay on a team for up to a year before a mandatory rotation.

    Lieutenants worked hours of Teams 1-4 as watch commanders. A sergeant served as watch commander on Friday days and Sunday nights. Patrol captain worked Friday day shift so he was available if the watch commander had an issue he couldn't resolve himself. I retired 13+ years ago and AFAIK the system is still in use.

    My favorite team to work as a senior patrol officer was the relief team. Friday I would be acting patrol sergeant, Saturday I would double up in a city car, and the Sunday I would be assigned as the city car/CSI unit. Would get off at 0630 Monday and not have to be back to work until 0600 Friday.
    The first indication a bad guy should have that I'm dangerous is when his
    disembodied soul is looking down at his own corpse wondering what happened.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Madison, Wisconsin


    Well "rotating shifts" is one thing and "rotating days off" is a different thing.

    "Rotating shifts" is when you switch every week or every month days-afternoons-midnights or midnights-afternoons-days.

    "Rotating days off" is when your days off change as you advance through the cycle. It is common for agencies around here to work a 6 on and 3 off schedule with 8 or 8-1/2 hour days.

    Years ago I worked a three week rotating schedule where you had friday-saturday-sunday-monday off every third weekend but it involved a 7 day stretch and an 8 day stretch. (All on 2300-0700)

    I was on a straight 5/2 with Thursdays and Fridays off for a while, then we switched to a six week rotating cycle and then to the 6/3 (my favorite)

    I know of a few agencies that had evening/midnight relief positions where they normally worked three midnight shifts, had 8 off and then worked three evening shifts.

    I never had a problem with rotating DAYS off. Rotating SHIFTS will take years off your life because you're always a sleep deprived zombie with no regular sleep pattern.
    Last edited by Jeff22; 05-08-2019 at 06:05 AM.

  6. #6
    Site Supporter Erick Gelhaus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    northern CA
    I can't give you any help. We tried a couple variations of twelve hour shifts, none worked well. We have gone to a 4/10 for M-Th and 3/12.5 for Fr-Sun with an 8 hr payback day every 6 weeks.

  7. #7
    We tried the four tens thing here a couple of times. It was a huge failure and actually cost us officers on both ends of the spectrum. Older guys (who lost their coveted weekends off) retired in droves. Younger guys left due to various reasons related to our Tier 2 retirement and other opportunities.

    Calls for service would stack up and response times increased dramatically. Asking off suddenly became a huge hassle as you could only have one off on most days. Answering hot calls alone was the norm rather than the exception.

    We are back on 8s like we used to be and everyone seems happier for it. Retention and hiring is still an issue but until they get serious with the pay/benefits that will continue.

    They polled us if we wanted to try was a resounding "F NO" across the spectrum.

    Last edited by lwt16; 05-08-2019 at 07:15 AM.

  8. #8
    My (non LE) agency was traditional with 8 hr shifts rotating weekly. As said, that will really wear you down because you don't have time to get on a schedule. We all considered the evening shift best (nominally 4-12, but you better be there early, some of the old timers carried it so far that it was really about 2-10.) because you could get some work done without the project manager breathing down your neck and it didn't upset sleep.

    I had one project that was 13 days of 10 hrs, one day off, repeat, with a break every five weeks to set up the next round of tests.

    I know one guy at a different plant who volunteered for straight midnights rather than rotate, and another who finally got enough seniority to lock in a straight evening shift.

    But that was in bygone days. I now have friends in medical and police work and never know when they will be on or off with their peculiar shift schedules.
    Code Name: JET STREAM

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    New England
    My job we work four on and four off, ten hour shifts. Every five weeks we owe a day. Guys love the schedule but the problem is night shift (5p-3a and 9p-7a). With 4 on and 4 off you get use to staying up four nights and then try and go back to normal for four nights and then back to staying up all night. Throw in court or OT and the sleep cycle is all screwed up.

  10. #10
    Our 12-hour patrol shift is:

    4 nights, 3 days off

    3 days, 1 day off

    3 nights, 3 days off

    4 days, 7 days off

    Then it starts over. It is generally well liked because of the 7 day break every month. It's rough switching back and forth between days and nights, though.

    This schedule is done with 4 different patrol platoons.
    Last edited by TC215; 05-08-2019 at 09:49 AM.

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