- Post a new discussion related to the topics covered in this module. Your post needs to provide specific lessons learned with examples from this module helping you enhance your leadership capacity at work.
- After posting your discussion, review posts provided by other students in the class and reply to at least one of them.
The human factors that are mentioned in this module are very important to the officers of today’s departments. Self-assessing yourself honestly and truthfully is a great way to start. Stress can have tremendous effects on your body and health. Taking small steps to reduce this not only helps you but your family also
This module serves as a good reminder for habits we should already by practicing. It is drilled in our heads at the academy to be physically and mentally fit for duty, but these healthy habits are too often lost. It is important for leaders to set the example by maintaining their mental and physical health and encouraging others to do the same.
Robert, you are correct, we have to do a better job of setting examples for others to follow in these areas as leaders.
One of the key lessons I learned from this module is to consider human factors when taking corrective or disciplinary action in response to accidents. This can be achieved by having an honest and objective look at all levels of the organization with the goal of preventing or limiting future occurrences while also ensuring rules, policies, and training are up-to-date. Ensuring that disciplinary actions are reasonable and justified can help build trust between leadership and those being disciplined, as well as promote a culture of safety and accountability within the organization. Leaders need to remember that officers are human, have vulnerabilities, and may make mistakes in certain situations; it is up to us as leaders to ensure that corrective and disciplinary actions are taken with that in mind. By doing so, we can help foster a healthy work environment where everyone’s safety is prioritized and build a culture of trust and respect between leadership and those under our care.
My department is attempting to establish a peer-to-peer support system for our officers. This last weekend we had an officer-involved shooting and need to reach out to another agency with a peer-to-peer program to assist our officers. Wellness, both physical and mental, is essential. A short time back, we had another incident where one of our officers was struck by a vehicle driven by a subject who was attempting to escape from the officer. His partner was a new trainee. Despite the trainee performing very well during the encounter, afterward, he began having self-doubt. He thought he could have done more to help his FTO and was riddled with guilt. Many of us spoke with him and tried to be supportive; however, he needed assistance we were not qualified or trained to give. He left the department a short time later, completely giving up on law enforcement. I would like to see my department establish and flesh out a peer-to-peer support program to look out for the mental wellness of our officers.
On of the pillars of 21 century policing is based upon officer safety and wellness. This is the exact concept that this lecture was trying to show is the importance of the human factors of wellness. To be an effective policing agency you have to have officers that are focused on their own well-being so that they can focus on the well being of others. The days of the officers who drink, smoke, can't run, or other dated concepts are gone. As society has changed we in the law enforcement profession must change or become dinosaurs of the past and not efficient or effective.
Self-assessment is vital in detecting human factors that reduce performance and is a skill all law enforcement members can complete. As leaders, we are responsible for ensuring that our people are educated on and understand early warning signs that create a dangerous situation. Leaders must also create a culture of being okay to talk about feelings and building relationships with co-workers. These small changes could save a career or life. Stress is compounding; it's better to get a late start than no start.
Well said Daniel. It is never too late and an honest self assessment of one's mental and physical health is a great place to start.
This block discussed the three human factors, physical fitness, fatigue, and stress. We can all relate easily to the effects the factors have had on us during our careers. I have seen the toughest of the tough and the brightest of the bright serum to the effects of these human factors. I believe we and all of our departments can do better to understand and prevent the effects these have on our officers. They can literally be killers and brake us down if we are not careful. What a good reminder that our health and welfare are important and should not be taken for granted. I am going to try harder to implement a healthier lifestyle.
My agency currently runs a 12 hour, non rotating shift on the popular Panama schedule. (work 2, off 2, work 3, off 2, work 2, off 3). We have a policy of not working over 16hrs in a day, to include "extra jobs" and are allowed an hour and a half to work out on duty, although most officers do not take advantage of the workout. And the city offers multiple free counseling sessions a year, plus additional visits at a low cost if needed.
It's not perfect, but I feel like effort has been made by my agency to assist with the three human factors with the most influence.
Mitch, we ate much the same with overtime and our work schedule. I would like to see our officers get the time to work out during their shift but realistically with the size of our department and the number of calls for service, it may only be during their lunch break. I can see our agency working on improvements though which is hopeful and necessary.
Working for the same agency, I second Mitch's evaluation. Unfortunately, many officers do not utilize the allocated workout time and are not conducting any outside-of-work physical fitness. As a result, a person's physical, emotional, and mental health decline is easily seen over a career in law enforcement. As leaders, we can educate ourselves and begin the catalyst for change.
We are in the same boat with our schedule. We do not have the personnel to shift to 10-hour shifts. There just is not enough people to make it work. Our officers do not want to work 8-hour shifts and it seems that we are stuck on 12s for now. With only 12 staff on the street we have too much OT with special events, that most of our officers do not need a second job as we have all the OT anyone could want at good rates.
We are struggling with the same issues at my agency. We used to have municipal court every Monday, and the court days were not assigned by shift. Therefore, anyone arrested over the weekend and who did not bond out would be on the docket. It frequently happened that an officer would work the night before court, then attend court, and then have to work the following night. I drove home many times, barely staying awake. Now our court days are assigned by shift and held on Wednesday. Court is always on an off-day and typically helps balance the short check from our revolving schedule.
This module is exactly what all departments need to take a closer look at. The overall physical and mental health of the officer must be brought to the forefront in the discussion of officer safety. The three factors of physical conditioning, fatigue, and stress must be discussed and addressed at every level. Without a balance in these three areas it is causing more harm to the officer and we lose more officers to these three influences than to any other actions . we must take control of our self improvement in these area and strive to make ourselves more mentally, physically and emotional stable.
Well said Patrick. Physical and mental health of our officers should be on the tops of our priority lists. Most agencies are short handed, so we need to take care of the ones we do have.
Great module topic for law enforcement leaders. I believe it was shorter than needed. As leaders and supervisors, especially command level officers, we must take the time to truly research and self-educate ourselves on the topic of human factors. Studies show that fatigue and stress management largely affect mortality when not properly managed. As most LE organizations work eight or twelve hour shifts it becomes easy for officers, especially the younger generations, to run and gun on less and less sleep increasing wear and tear on their bodies and minds. Studies vary on what is too much or too little sleep, but most agree that between four-and-a-half and six-and-a-half hours is the target. The key to sleep is ensuring it is restful. Stress, intoxicants, and a handful of other factors can affect how restful our sleep is. This is then compounded in organizations who have rotations in place. Rotating every twenty-eight days is the worst for the body and mind in many studies. Several agencies in my area operate on a four- or six-month rotation, while my agency has a policy of no rotation, apart from the shift supervisors who change shifts every year (not necessarily from days to nights).
We must also self-educate in the adverse effects of stress on the body and mind. While most Americans experience less than five critical events in their lifetimes, first responders experience more than 800 in their careers. This has a major impact on our physiological systems, cognitive responses, and our perception. It is critical for us as leaders to know how to address these issues and develop plans, procedures, and policies that mitigate the damage and risks associated. I digress.
Jarrett, you are spot on. All people need to take a greater stance on these area and realize the negative affect causing unwanted stress on and individual.
I agree with you Jarrett. It is imperative that law enforcement leaders understand the impact of human factors on their officers and the communities they serve. As a leader, it is our responsibility to ensure that we are continually learning about fatigue and stress management and their effects on mortality. With most LE organizations working mandated overtime, shift rotations, or even the normal eight or twelve-hour shifts, it is easy for officers to experience exhaustion over time. It is also essential to educate ourselves on the effects of stress and how to mitigate its risk. By doing this, we will be able to serve both our officers and our community better.
Physical fitness, extra duty jobs, lack of qualified persons, budget problems, and manpower issues are tough things to overcome. My agency, I believe like most, have these problems, if not more. All of these thing contribute to different human factors and the way we live our lives. The extra duty jobs is a big one where I'm at. Officers were working so many extra hours a day that it began effecting their normal job duties. It also contributed to a fatal accident that took one of our officers' lives. We've since changed the policy on the amount of work hours a day. I try and tell the new guys, the money is good, but in moderation.
Officers cannot rely on the department to correct every aspect we face regarding physical fitness, fatigue, and stress. Agencies have tried to minimize portions by changing how many hours a shift consists of, including overtime. Our agency pays gym membership fees to encourage officers to exercise. Most officers will not regularly attend gyms or take extracurricular activities that support and help protect their careers. I have maintained a physical fitness mindset for the better part of my career. Added to this, I have put myself through jiujitsu for many years. I have lost count of how many times this has played an essential role in my hands-on aspect. It has helped in mental and physical control, resulting in less liability in physical confrontations on the streets. I now teach this to officers, who realize the three human factors are much more manageable.
Great module that covers an area that is seldomly spoken of. The shift hours for an officer changed from 8 hours shifts to 12-hour shift during the first two years of my career. The influence behind the change was motivated by other agencies switching to it ahead of our agency and recruitment was the main focus. Other agencies implementing a four day on four day off schedule was appealing and retention to keep officers at our agency pushed our agency to voting toward that schedule. Having four days off is great but it also takes a lot out of you and most times you’re never really off for four days. When you factor in court, special events and overtime it becomes taxing on the nervous system. I know it can destroy an officer’s health and I have personally seen officers die within a few years after retirement. Those officers did keep themselves physically fit and had health issues that were notated in the module such as high blood pressure and diabetes. It’s difficult to maintain physical fitness due to the time constraints of shift work but it’s something that every officer should squeeze into their schedule. Even when I didn’t have time to work out before work, I would find time during my shift to least get out of my patrol unit and walk 15-20minutes a day.
In recent years agencies have been improving in understanding the human factors. Fatigue has always been an issue, and we often explain the need for downtime to new officers with the amount. I agree that we need to do better to educate the public on what occurs under stress. I advocate using social media to deliver our message first and showcase the positive parts of the profession.
This module was very informative in all aspects. It talked about physical fitness, stress, human factors, and educating the public about what we do. All of these issues can make or break an agency by making sure our officers are in good physical shape, free from stress as much as possible, and well trained. The public must be made aware of what the agency and the people in the agency do. Show the good things and counter the bad with the truth. In my agency, we have a PIO who goes above and beyond to get the message out to the public about what goes on inside. She makes sure the public is well educated to all that goes on, good or bad. This has maintained a very strong relationship between the agency and the public.
Detective Harrington was absolutely right that we need to educate the public about "use of force" policies and practices and improve communication with the public to humanize officers. I also think increasing the amount of time officers interact with the public in social settings, as opposed to official police actions, will help to humanize the officers to the public and also humanize the public to the officers.
I agree with we should do more to educate the public in uses of force incidents. I have seen larger agencies host a debrief of critical incidents on social media. I like the idea of putting out message out first and not letting the media control the message.
I agree with you and feel the same way. She mentioned Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s book On Combat (The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace) and that book would be an excellent book for the public to read to be better informed of the what the human body goes through during stress. It should be required reading for any Law Enforcement Officer.
Jeremy and Elliot,
This is absolutely true. With the overall relationship between the public and law enforcement, On Combat does explain a lot of what goes on with people who experience highly stressful situations. It is hard to explain to the public what goes on with officers in these cases. Putting civilians through simulators and blue-gun scenarios helps.
This module led me to consider how infrequently we consider LEO long-term health. While some agencies have taken steps to improve officer health with incentives, more consideration should be given to reduce workplace stress and fatigue.
Joseph Spadoni Jr.
This module expressed the importance of physical fitness that we should maintain as we never know when we will need it to save our life or that of another person. It expressed the importance of fatigue and the negative effects that it can have on a person, I was able to relate to that for sure when Harrington spoke of the micro sleep, can say how many times that’s happened to me. We must keep up our physical conditioning and avoid fatigue for a better, healthier lifestyle.
The topics of physical fitness and fatigue have come up several times in this program. I think there are a lot of officers that overlook their own physical fitness and allow themselves to become fatigued unnecessarily.
This lesson was informative to show the consequences of stress and fatigue have on the body and mental state. I have taken a couple of classes and see that as a leader we must also watch over the ones that work for us. As leaders we must constantly make sure that we do not have bad decision, when we could have done something more.
This was a very informative lecture, especially with the concept of human factors of fatigue and stress. Many accidents have factors that include this but are rarely addressed before hand. It is important to educate employees on these factors.
I agree. As a leader I want to know that I did everything to set my people up for success. More education on the factors would be helpful and even incentives.
All too often fatigue gets the best of people. We should definitely educate our employees more on these factors to push them in the direction of a healthier lifestyle.
I agree with everything stated in this module, specifically in reference to Fatigue. I think alot of officers neglect the importance of separating their work from their home life which leads to officer burnout. Studies have shown that majority of officer marriages end in divorce and I think it is a direct correlation between stress and fatigue. That is why I stress to my officers under my command on the importance of taking some time off and enjoying the things they like doing.
The stress and fatigue offices experience have unintended harmful consequences in officers' personal lives, but this is hardly ever discussed in formal settings in the interest of awareness and prevention.
The law enforcement profession is highly stressful due to the nature of the business. Officers must take of themselves mentally as well as physically. Managing fatigue is essential to an officer's well being. During these times, severe staff shortages may cause an officers to work long hours without time off. This is a serious issue that can have dire consequences. Time away from the job is essential to officer's health, mental and physical.
Law enforcement is a very stressful profession, in my career, I have known a lot of officers who have burnout because they didn't know how to relieve stress. Most of the time the only food officer eat on duty is fast food, an the only time some officers go to the gym is when it is mandated.
This was a great reminder of the consequences of not taking care of ourselves. It listed some fatigue consequences as impairment, memory loss, and increased heart rate. Knowing this, it is important to look after other members within your agency to ensure they are not getting "burnt out." I believe this is easy to accomplish in law enforcement due to the opportunity to work overtime and details.
I agree that we risk "burnout" working too many hours. As a young deputy just starting in law enforcement, I never turned any details down. Getting rest was not an option; I had bills to pay and a family depending on me.
Fatigue and stress seem to run hand-in-hand, especially in law enforcement. No one becomes a police officer for the money, which often leads to needing to work at least one part-time job. Starting pay has significantly increased over the years, but the cost of living with the current economy has negated progress in getting ahead. Now, add the staffing shortages nationwide and agencies requiring officers to work additional overtime to meet minimum staffing needs. We must keep these human factors in mind, and instead of requiring mandatory overtime, we may need to incorporate mandatory downtime into the schedule.
Mitchell... this is a great idea. It is easy for members of law enforcement to become "burnt out" with the amount of accessible overtime and off-duty details. It can still become tiring for law enforcement members, even with the limited amount of hours allowed to work each day.
Excellent idea Mitchell. I have witnessed deputies work 8-10 days without any downtime. I have seen the toll it takes on their physical as well as their mental health.
I really appreciated this module. It is a great reminder to not get so caught up in caring for everyone else that we forget to take care of ourselves. Take time to decompress and clear your mind. Don’t take your work home. Take time for yourself and your family. I particularly liked the points made about the public having an unrealistic view of law enforcement. I have found that having visitors into our agency and hosting Citizen’s Police Academy and Coffee with a Cop programs goes a long way to educate the public about our profession. Don’t forget, one of those citizens may be on your next jury!
I agree. Decompressing and developing a life outside of the job and away from those we work with is critical to long term health.
In the lecture, Dr. Harrington discusses taking the opportunity to educate the public and publicize the selfless and compassionate things officers do in an effort to humanize them and the badge. This is something my agency does very well and was one of the goals of our PIO when she started the department's Facebook page. We have a huge amount of community support for our agency and officers and social media was a great help in establishing that.
I agree, Chris. Our department does a great job with this as well. Our local news channel has a segment called "Smiles Behind the Badge" as well, that spotlights local first responders. Also our Citizens Police Academy and Coffee with a Cop programs are always very successful in humanizing our officers.
I agree Chris. When it is put out to the public all the good, selfless, and compassionate things the agency and the officers do, it helps the public we serve to support us. With our PIO, who does a great job of getting the information out, it maintains the great relationship we have with the public we serve.
Human factors and the greatest influence, physical conditioning, fatigue, and stress. All of which I can relate to within a 29-year career. The shift work, callouts, 20 + hours that we used to run-on high-profile cases have contributed to some health issues I see today. However, physical conditioning seems to be connected to the control over stress and health.
It is easy to put your health and well-being aside and chase "easy money" offered at secondary employment opportunities. We must realize and help our people realize this is not a schedule we can maintain long-term, and we must set aside time to decompress. I've seen a lot of Dys. burn out way too early due to overloading themselves with off-duty work.
I agree with you Todd. Many deputies who chase the money and in turn over work themselves find themselves in a burned out situation. Which can put in them a situation to always chase the money but could cause them to leave this profession due to burn out and easier money options.
Human Factors and Leadership: The human factor is the single most significant piece in any outcome for law enforcement, period. No matter how well we condition our bodies or mental wellbeing, we are human, stress will build up and cause fatigue. It's just a matter of how big the hole is that the stress is coming in through. Physical fitness will make that hole smaller and help to bail some of the stress but over time, fatigue will have to be dealt with.
This is a serious issue in law enforcement that needs to be addressed. I put it on par with defensive tactics training or marksmanship. Nationally, law enforcement leadership does a poor job at humanizing LEO's and explaining the human factors that go into critical responses.
In combination with physical fitness, another way to remove some of the stress and fatigue is to have a hobby or outside interest of law enforcement. This must include your family and friends because someday, your law enforcement family will be gone.
This module showed the importance to physical conditioning. Physical conditioning can be a solution to those struggling with stress and fatigue. Taking care of your personal health is something each individual officer must take responsibility for.
Fatigue is a significant issue for officers at my agency due to the number of special events that they are required to work. We support hundreds of special events each year and officers often work these events before or after a work shift. It isn’t uncommon for officers to work over fourteen hours in a day and have short turnaround times between shifts. Although we have a policy in place that requires command staff approval to work over sixteen hours in any twenty-four-hour period, we rely on officers to ensure they are properly rested prior to reporting to work. Additionally, many officers still work secondary jobs further exacerbating the problem. We need to do a better job about educating officers about limiting other activities and maximizing rest prior to and after these long workdays. Supervisors and peers need to be observant for fatigue and other human factors that appear to be an issue for their fellow officers. Any perceived issue should be discussed with the officer to let them know of the concern for their welfare and how it could negatively impact team performance.
Kent, I agree, we need to do a better job at educating officers about limiting law enforcement activities. Rather, we should be educating officers about developing outside interests and family needs instead of working extra-duty details. I've found this the single most important intentional thing I can do to destress and humanize myself. Otherwise, one day you will retire and have strangers for family members.
I think you have a valid point.
We have the same issue with fatigue but it doesn't have to do with special events but working overtime to cover shifts because of manpower shortages. Thankfully with the hiring of more officers, we are beginning to alleviate some of this.
Human factors should be more of a communication at all agencies. I keep hearing how some agencies expect their officers to rotate between days/swings/nights ever month. That takes a terrible toll on the human body. My agency is better in that people are on their shift for an entire year. But, some deputies who work nights switch back to days to be with their families on their off time. This has a negative effect for anyone in this position. It is no wonder that life expectancy in our profession is less than other professions.
I am a firm believer in human factors. When I was first married, we decided to eliminate all our debt. Eliminating debt meant I had to work three or four extra jobs on my days off. This created an environment where I got very little rest and I was exhausted nearly all the time. I was working an overnight shift and many mornings could barely stay awake long enough to drive home. I also had some physiological consequences due to the exhaustion and stress such as elevated blood pressure, heart rate, and difficulty breathing.
I have no doubts human factors are an important topic we must discuss as law enforcement leaders. I know we have numerous employees who are putting in too many hours each week, and in some cases, are becoming addicted to the amount of money they are making. Working too many extra jobs not only has negative effects on the body, but it can also ruin marriages and relationships within the police department. The essay topic for this week is an extremely important question and one that cannot be ignored.
This is an important topic we need to pay attention to. Many agencies are short-staffed now days which puts the weight on the shoulders of the current employees. When you stack that on top of the extra details to get afloat with the current economy, sometimes there is not much room left for sleep.
This module reminded me of the Emotional Intelligence modules earlier in the program. Just as there is room to help officers understand how their emotional responses can hijack their decision making, their physiology can as well. Teaching officers these principles and helping them to recognize when their stress, their fatigue, or the exigencies of the situation are effecting their ability to make quality decisions may also help them to counter some of these effects. Ideally, we want out officers to be trained well enough to react decisively and effectively when necessary, but also enough awareness of their own reactions to pause when they should.
This module drove home the point of self-care, both physically and mentally. It is incumbent on the officer to stay physically fit, reduce stress, and decrease fatigue. I know from my own experience as a young officer I had many different part-time just to help with my financial needs at the time. It was not uncommon to work a full shift go home for a few hours then head to the second job. Officers must be able to recognize when they are taking on too much. As I have transitioned into leadership roles within my agency I have a better understanding of the role the agency has to reduce potential burnout. It is important to example to officers that policies on secondary employment are designed to protect the officer as well as the agency.
All too often officers stretch themselves thin by working extra jobs and overtime along with their regular shifts. I know several that run on little sleep. I believe some of this is due to lack of money management skills. Some officers get over extended and then end up working all the overtime jobs and extra jobs they can to make the payments. I believe this compounds some of the human factors that were discussed such as causing stress in their lives and relationships. Some don't eat healthy because they are grabbing what ever they can as they go from one job to the other.
I agree with your post for the most part, but coming from a smaller agency the starting pay is not always at a level that officers can feel comfortable paying bills without overtime or secondary employment. I also agree with your assessment of the eating habits of most officers. Depending on the shift your work or how busy your day is, you may not be able to eat anything truly healthy, and unfortunately, fast food has become the officer's go-to meal.
This is an interesting conversation because I feel that wellness has only recently become a priority discussion in our field, and we've really been behind in training our officers wellness skills. This is perhaps ironic since physical fitness is so often such an integral part of our academies. Then when we get out on our own and it's just assumed that we can and will keep up, and we've offered very little training to our officers on health and wellness (until recently). This is partly explained by the fact that we have so much mandatory training that our training schedules get filled up. Having said it, as we've started to train these skills, I think there is room to train not just healthy lifestyles and nutrition, but also some room for very practical training in some of these areas. For example, knowing that officers often go through periods where they're working lots of days in a row or picking up OT shifts or extra jobs, could we teach meal prepping. Sounds ridiculous, but letting officers know that there are options better and healthier than hitting the drive through between extra jobs and giving them the skills to plan ahead and prep for their tight schedules could really be a help to them.
I was very encouraged by this module regarding getting back into shape. Our lives as police officers are awful and not nearly enough of us maintain a healthy lifestyle. Our organization must find ways to push healthy living so we can enjoy our retirements when we leave this place. Between working midnight shifts like you are, working extra jobs, and dealing with the hypervigilance, it is difficult to be a police officer or the family member of a police officer. I know we have learned a great deal in this course, but I hope this is not one of those things we are aware of and do little about. I would personally like to have more accountability for a healthy lifestyle but to also understand more how living an unhealthy lifestyle as a police officer affects my well-being.
I agree that too may officers are over extended. What if part of our leadership development training in the academy or entry level officer / employee in service training was a financial literacy curriculum? I believe most adults adopt their level of financial literacy from their parents, which for many is poor. Again, we need to frame this with a what is in for the individual and possibly offer additional financial planning training and/or mentoring through some mechanism. Hopefully this would spark some interest and reduce the number of financially illiterate officers in the department.
The human factor described in this module that stood out to me was fatigue. In my experience, law enforcement officers tend to push the envelope on working and living with far to little sleep. Speaking for myself, far to often juggling my professional and personal responsibilities caused me to sacrifice sleep to satisfy both obligations. As I have gotten older, this has become even more challenging because restful sleep does not come as easy as it used to. There is a noticeable difference in my mood and effectiveness both at work and home when I get adequate amounts of rest. Currently, I work 3rd shift which has presented a new challenge when it comes to rest. It is still a work in progress, but my new schedule forced me to make adjustments and prioritize sleep.
I totally agree with you Matt. I noticed the same things. I often get a few hours sleep and then up doing stuff on the farm. I have notice when I have been lacking sleep that my administrative products get kicked back for small errors that I normally would have caught.
Educating the public in human factors is vital to community relations. Unfortunately, we as a culture are very behind in adding this human element. With more education and training I believe enormous gains can be realized for both public perception and the expectations an officer holds for themselves. Awareness will hopeful suspend public judgment on a critical incident and allow the officer to recognize areas of need rather then failure. We are all human and we all have strengths and areas in need of improvement. We need to own it and bridge the gap in a proactive manner
I agree that education is key and we have fallen behind. As the module stated, the 24 hour news cycle, movies, and television have given the public an unrealistic expectation of an officer's ability. Hopefully, continuing to educate the public will help bring a human element to the officers and bring the public's expectations closer towards reality.
As leaders in our organizations we should take a hard look at the wellness of our people. As the module calls it "human factors" are some of the biggest issues that we face as officers. The ability of our officers to combat stress and fatigue is something that we have to constantly check on. If the officers are struggling through and we are not attempting to help with the issues then we are failing our officers. While budget constraints are understandable, there are always things that can be done differently to work around these issues and we as leaders need to focus on those things. Our department at this time allows officers to work out on duty at the Recreation center in the city. We also have bicycles that can be used on the many miles of walking / riding trails in our city. These are some factors that our city does to help with physical conditioning and stress relief. While it is not a lot, at least there is something being offered, as I am sure a lot of other places are not doing.
As leaders in our organizations, we need to provide our people with training on first the awareness of physiological and psychological problems that occur when we don't take care of our bodies. We should be providing nutritional best practices and incentives. We should be providing and encouraging time for physical fitness. More importantly, we should be encouraging everyone in our organization to the best partners we can be by monitoring each other, providing encouragement, and leading others by example.
Getting folks involved in fun physical activity outside of the workplace should be taking place. Fun runs, organized softball tournaments, hiking, biking, the list goes on for all of the things we can be involved in together. Physical activity reduces stress, and promotes healthier eating.
“Human Factor” plays a significant role in law enforcement. The discipline of the human factor focuses on understanding the interactions among people and other elements of a system. When the body is tired, this is not good for the body. This module has made me realize that fatigue causes stress, which induces the stress associated with law enforcement officers.
I agree, stress and fatigue are problematic for first responders and not just for the evident issues. The silent dangers we don't consider such as not being as sharp, not seeing situations at face value, moodiness and lack of motivation can all sabotage the effectiveness of the individual and the team.
The “Human Factors” are often left out by administrations not due to malice but because of a separation. With administrations constantly segregated from the agency’s officers, they are usually in different schedules, environments, uniforms, and conditions. So for them to relate to a patrol or correctional officer’s physical conditioning, fatigue, or stress is not a reality. A solution would be for those in administration to work more in the roles they are supervising to better understand.
I agree, Mahan! So often, the administration leaves themselves out by separating themselves. The administration has a set schedule that does not allow them to know what's going on. The administration is more experienced with old policing and sometimes doesn't appreciate what the current deputies go through. I am not saying they do not care; I'm simply saying they sometimes don't understand. Great post!
The Human factors and Leadership module was eye opening for me. I feel like I am always tired between work and home life because of always being on the go. Since I am always so tired, I don’t make time to exercise. It is a constant circle of repeat. The section about fatigue was so informative for me. I never would have thought being exhausted would lead to stress; I have never put those two together before. I also had never heard of the micro sleep; but I have had incidents in my past that was exactly how the instructor explained it! This module has definitely made me more aware of having to work on myself as a priority.
This one wasn't so much an eye opener for me, but more of a slap in the face reminder. I've experienced all of the issues Detective Harrington described in her lecture. Tunnel vision, micro sleep, mood changes, increased heart rate variability, and impaired immune system are all things I've dealt with as a result of fatigue and stress.
We need to address and correct these things with ourselves, and model that for the people we work with.
I have been fortunate that my agency has been very proactive in the area of minimizing the effects of human factors. We have two, agency owned, 24/7 fitness centers and quarterly fitness testing that allow you to earn up to an extra $2000 each year. We also pay for personal trainers, dieticians, and martial arts training. Unfortunately, many people fail to take advantage of it. I think we can improve teaching our officers how much of a positive impact they can have on their life, with little effort. To echo this module, On Combat and Training at the Speed of Life are excellent books for any trainer/instructor to read.
Over the past year, our agency considered extended shifts, meaning 3- or 6-months rotation of days and nights. A complaint from some of the officers was the ability to adapt to the monthly change of rotating days and nights. What we discussed and what I remember from my own experiences with rotation, was it took about 2 weeks into every month to get acclimated to the new schedule. I noticed this to be more difficult the older I got. When we first discussed it, the majority were on board and then we took a poll from patrol the majority rejected the idea. I think that it is important and beneficial to have a healthy sleep pattern for optimal health benefits. As this module indicated, lack of sleep can cause stress on the body amongst other issues. As leaders of our departments, it is important for us to take the health of our officers seriously and provide them with the resources they need to enhance their overall health and wellbeing. We should provide them with the tools and encourage them to use them.
This module did an excellent job pointing out how Human Factors can effect officers. I can personally say that I need to follow the advise given. Myself and probably most of law enforcement officers are routinely under an immense amount of stress. For me the stress will turn to fatigue because I work long hours to accomplish the mission. Then I do not have time or the energy for physical conditioning. It is a vicious cycle that needs to be broken. This module provided great strategies to help agencies and officers with the Human Factors.
I agree with you 100%. It is like a never ending circle. After reviewing this module I know I need to set goals for myself and put them into play.
Looking at physical conditioning, fatigue and stress as outlines in this module, I have to admit my disappointment in my own leadership. I preach being in shape and to put your families first (my way of de-stressing), but I don't force anything and I think that is something I need to start doing to help those I am responsible for deal with their fatigue and stress. Enlightening as to what I should be doing.
From experience, law enforcement personnel are often their own worst enemies in terms of well-being and managing adverse effects of working 24/7 operations. This profession is vicious and impacts the biological processes even harder on the officer’s body. The module did an excellent job in outlining several organizational strategies to enhance wellness among officers overall health.
I agree Joey. We are our own worst enemy, for sure!
This module hits home because in law enforcement we find ourselves getting into a complacent way of handling the job and don’t realize that our physical fitness is just as important as having the knowledge to do the job. In fact, not being physically fit may lead to health issues that will lead to a short career if not addressed properly. I can relate to staying busy and always use the excuse as to why I cannot workout when I should be finding the excuse to workout instead. Being both mentally and physically fit is imperative.
Jerrod, I feel the same way. This module showed me some of the effects of fatigue that I never considered. I realize I need to stop making excuses and concentrate on my mental and physical health and make me a priority.
It is unfortunate that it has taken this long for mental health to become a priority in our profession. Every shift we work can be mentally demanding. Whether it's an OIS or a civil disturbance between neighbors over the color of a fence. (Real Story) As Leaders we have to check in with our staff, we have to be proactive towards mental and physical health. For example, after my OIS, the workers comp company denies my claim stating I didn't suffer a mental injury. My boss was proactive in telling me that if I need help, to have whatever doctor bill the sheriff's office and we will pay for it out of budget. We have to take care of our employees.
Tyler- You are correct. It is unfortunate that it has taken this long for agencies and the general public to make mental health a priority in our profession. The demanding stresses that are on law enforcement must be addressed and to have leadership stand by them when they are needed for support. I am glad times are changing, so officers can get the help needed.
This is as true as it can get and I believe that part of the problem, in a lot of agencies, is that to many of the leaders in the department are not in touch with what is truly going on "on the street". If we as leaders are not taking an active role in what our officers are dealing with then we will lose touch with the issues and become unable to take care of our people.
The cost of this profession is high. It takes a severe toll on our bodies, minds, and souls. I have watched many families torn apart when the demands of the job got in the way. I experience the physical fatigue regularly due to years of exposure to 28-day shift rotations between night and day. On the job injuries for mild to severe. All wear a body and mind down.
Without a sound physical and mental program in place to help an individual cope, he or she will not have a quality of life but a mere existence. It is up to the leaders in each agency to help their people to cope with these stressors. Mental or physical breakdowns should not be an option.
A physical and mental program is clearly a must but must also be realistic and work with people's schedule. It seems that some employees don't want to do anything extra unless it's simple.
As a 22 year veteran in the law enforcement field, I've experienced fatigue and stress, throughout my career. Because of these factors, it affected my health and well-being for years. However, I was fortunate to learn the importance of physical conditioning, nutrition, and mental wellness to address these issues. I agree with the IACP's resolution which recommends that all law enforcement agencies should provide training and adopt policies that minimize the effects of fatigue on officers prior to and off their assignment. This was a very informative module on the effects human factors can have in our profession.
Glenn, I agree with your post. Fatigue originates from all the late night phone calls and the special assignments we get assigned to handle.
I have recently joined my department's Officer Wellness and Peer Support teams, so I can't stress how important the lessons in the module are to our profession. I have seen too many partners leaving this profession early due to stress and a few that have tragically taken their own lives. As law enforcement officers we swear an oath to protect the public, but also need to be better at protecting ourselves and our partners. It is great to see agencies that are doing more to protect their people. I think the best thing that this accomplishes is to slowly work officer wellness into our culture. We knew that doing so would take time and effort, but each new officer that gets hired sees the emphasis on wellness from the very start and that will pay dividends for decades to come.
This module and the essay bring to light some real issues in Law Enforcement. Physical fitness sadly takes the back burner to work schedules, families, or life in general. Some agencies allow their personnel to work out while on shift but this however is not the case at mine. I have always found the time to stay fit but that is not always a priority with many. Secondary employment usually supersedes it as the financial constraints of working in public safety are ever present.
I agree with you that physical fitness should be a priority. As you stated secondary employment will usually win out due to necessity. With so many agencies in a budget crunch, secondary employment options are a recruiting tool in many. Local leaders should examine these practices and hopefully find a better solution.
It is sad that physical fitness takes a back seat. Not only on its own merits, but the mitigating factors it can provide to the stress and fatigue aspects are also so often overlooked.
Andrew, I agree. Heart attacks and car accidents kill more officers. Still, we focus only on safety matters like firearms and armor. With more attention to physical fitness and stress relief, many other dangers can be avoided. Financial constraints are present, but fitness is cheap, and it just has to be implemented with incentives.
I always think it is important to focus on Human Factors. With my agency we follow the Human Factors Response Group (HFRG) for our defensive tactics training. This focuses in detail a lot on what was covered in this module. I find it important to train officers on how their body may react during stressful events and how they can overcome it. Fitness is a big key to success with this and our agency has recognized the importance of it. Now, we decided not to make fitness a requirement but we have incentivized it greatly to help motivate officers with their fitness journey.
This was rather a short module but packed with a lot of great information. It was a great reminder for me of the importance of reminding officers of human factors and how it can effect our outcomes. All too often when teaching defensive tactics, we brush over the human factors aspect and concentrate on the physical skills throughout the training. This module reminded me that I need to spend more time reviewing human factors with officers so they know the effects it can have one them and make the proper adjustments.
I agree that this module had a lot of great information and could have been longer in my opinion. I had mentioned in my post that my agency uses Human Factor Response Group for our defensive tactics training. They have great material that show the science behind how your body reacts to stressful situations. I recommend sending at least one DT instructor to their course and using their material.
Understanding the importance of physical and mental health in Law Enforcement is beyond important. As a leader, understanding and seeing fatigue in your staff is important. Being able to address that and come up with a solution for your staff is more important. This is the kind of thing that see work performance suffer. They also turn to other things when outside of work. This results in alcoholism, and terrible unhealthy eating habits and sleep schedules which take an overall toll on a person. Creating programs that help officers through this fatigue and stress of high stress calls is important. My agency currently has an officer wellness program that is free to all employees.
Zach is correct as both physical and mental health are vitally important in this profession. Sadly mental health takes a back seat usually until a critical incident occurs and an officer is in crisis. We work in a career that see's the worst of the worst on a minute to minute basis. The larger population can not even imagine some of what we deal with on a daily basis. It is all our responsibilities to closely monitor our people and have the real conversations about work stress, PTSD, as well as the inherent physical risk of this profession.
I agree. We need to start looking at "bad behaviors" or "bad habits" as indicators instead of intentional or unintentional misdeeds.
Focusing on the three human factors was very important for me. Especially, fatigue. Fully understanding, recognizing and properly addressing fatigue when it comes to secondary employment is key. Having fatigued deputies on duty will not only put their safety in question, but will also have a negative affect during community interactions.
I agree Jeff, fatigue seems to be the biggest issue, especially on patrol where officers are trying to manage duty hours, court time and off-duty gigs. Our policy states that officers can not work more than 16 hours in a 24 hour period however, supervisors can approve additional hours if needed. With city sanctioned events, especially during the summer, officers are often working over that time limit in order to meet the demands of the city. Because of the safety issues and liability involved, I'll allow my team members to take a short nap at the PD while on duty if need be. This way, I know where they are and can find them if they don't answer the radio as well as keeping them in a safe environment instead of in a dark parking structure or other area trying to hide.This doesn't happen very often but the officers know it's available if need be.
These three factors are age-old discussions that have seen some improvement, yet could still be improved upon. My agency only recently created an incentive program for working out, however, it is limited in that it only rewards those who do a quarterly test, to include a 1.5 mile run. I don’t run. Never have. The incentive is good, but not realistic in approach. We also do not have a workout facility in our PD nor do we have great access to the town’s recreational facility. Agencies should capitalize on the fact many have a community recreation center and allow officers to use it on duty, or provide additional incentives for documented working out while off duty. Even with all those incentives, there are still those who just don’t want to work out regularly. I, sadly, am one of those guys even though I know the benefits of more regular conditioning. While we could blame the agency, as Dr. Harrington pointed out, the responsibility is also upon the individual to care for themselves in a manner they know is best for them.
My agency recently looked to do something similar to this. They eventually found out the expectations were unrealistic and would result in the loss of many. They did implement a mental health program and offered us free memberships to the local YMCA. I do believe a mandatory physical fitness test will be implemented at some point.
The information in this module has always been a topic of discussion within agencies. I am guilty of allowing my physical fitness lapse as I elevated in rank and responsibility. I completely agree to the benefits of officer fitness and its direct relationship to stress, fatigue and overall officer safety for the officer and his co-workers. I have seen other sections implement plans on the squad level to promote better health within the ranks, and I will follow suit with my division.
Same here, David. I've allowed my physical fitness to lapse. We have taken steps as an agency to allow staff to exercise while "on the clock" for an hour. This has been positively received by staff and we will be evaluating the affects of stress, fatigue and fitness as we move forward. It's a start.
Conditioning, fatigue, and stress are the three human factors the have the most significant influence on improving safety. Unfortunately, these also happen to be what law enforcement officers suffer the most. I believe it is also safe to say that all three probably increase from each other. Our department has been implementing different programs to help battle these common problems. We now have a gym that can help with conditioning and relieving stress and are working on hour changes that could positively affect fatigue. Checking with our officer for different tell-tale signs is important to prevent safety issues.
One of the biggest steps I feel an agency can take towards changing the effects of human factors is through training and educating its officer about them. Many people are aware of them but don't truly understand how it affects their everyday actions and decision making. Through training, officers can be presented with scientific research to back then claims, be shown videos to review and note what factors may have played into the situation, and also hear testimony from other officers who have experienced these human factors in stressful situations. Sometimes seeing and hearing firsthand will help someone to truly understand.
Your training idea sounds like a positive change to help improve safety. I believe training and continuing to add positive reinforcement and incentives for officers to utilize the gym or other health methods would also help. I also think departments do do a good enough job in providing mental health help when necessary.
Fatigue is real and associated with stress it can have long damaging affects on a person. As leaders we need to encourage and focus on stress relievers like physical and mental conditioning; along with implementing policies to help take preventive measures to combat the things we can. By understanding and learning the Human Factors; this will allow us to recognize stress, fatigue, and lack of physical conditioning our officers as well as ourselves might be experiencing.
I agree leadership should encourage stress relief. I see many leaders who do encourage it. Problem I also see, is leadership who doesn’t practice it or allow for it. Each person is very different in this realm and it is a difficult topic to effectively address. Stress is an individual factor – what stresses me may have little impact on you and vice-versa. I believe that is one of the difficult interferences in how leadership can address this issue. However, there is room for improvement all around and hopefully these topics continue to be addressed with effective solutions.
Physical and Mental fitness is extremely important in law enforcement. Fatigue and stress can build up causing your work performance to suffer. Not being physically and mentally fit can put your co-workers in harm’s way and you could become a liability to your team.
Many law enforcement officers participate in secondary employment. Their health and mental well-being are even more of a concern when they work this outside employment to themselves, the leaders of the organizations and to the communities, they are serving. Generally, officers in their assignments already face fatigue with rotating shift work and long hours. Added off-duty security details are a common practice for secondary employment within my organization. Some officers work between 10-30 hours extra a week to supplement their incomes due to low salaries. These extra hours significantly limit their time to eat properly, maintain physical fitness, and spend downtime with family and friends helping them reduce stress. All of this can affect their mental fatigue as well. Not enough time to sleep and diet properly can directly affect how their cognitive abilities could be hampered. If the officers are not keeping up with their physical and mental health their ability to analyze a threat is reduced as well.
When fatigue was addressed it just made me think that it has always been there and has become something that just is. It really does need to be recognized and addressed for what it is; like hypertension, a silent killer. Also stress, which has been deemed worse. I'm sure exercise is one of the most healthiest thing we can do for ourselves, that and a good mental attitude.
I think that was an honest, educational, and enjoyable module. I agree that more officers need to be more physical fit and I personally think that agencies should have physical fitness requirements for officers. Being overweight can lead to several heart conditions and even premature death and substantial disability. I think that physical fitness is important because police officers must be able to protect the public and if they are limited with physical abilities it will be difficult for them to do that. Physical fitness of a policer officer is essential for survival.
This module hits real-world problems with front-line law enforcement. Too many of us do not pay enough attention to these areas in our lives. I am as guilty as anyone. I let my health suffer from a bad diet and a lack of sleep. While working shift work I was tired all the time. If I sat for 10 minutes not doing anything I fell asleep. I ignored the warning signs and did not do anything about it until I had a life or death situation. Although my health factors did not play into my incident, I began thinking about my health in a whole new w light.
Burt, I agree as I am also guilty of letting myself go. I have realized that I need to correct this. I have made an appointment with my doctor in order to get myself into better health.
The human factors are everyday considerations for every officer. I know our agency has a strict guideline that outside of an emergency no one is to work over 16 hours. This is an important policy because I can attest that fatigue does have a direct impact on your ability to function. The less fit a person is to begin with means that they will also fall even further when they are fatigued from over working.
Harrington, R. (2017). Human factors. Module 1, Weeks 5 & 6. National Command and Staff College.
My Agency attempts to address the physical fitness issue with our Deputies by offering a pay incentive for participation in a voluntary fitness assessment. Each year every officer is afforded the opportunity to participate in the voluntary assessment. Depending on your overall performance you are given extra money on each check. Recently my Agency constructed a gym with equipment from a former gym chain called KOKO fitness. Employees are even afforded the opportunity to work out here free of charge, and yet people still don’t take the opportunity, which is very unfortunate.
I agree and understand. I am also guilty of being one of the people not being physically fit. My agency offers a free gym and weight room for all employees to use and their spouses. This is an incentive to not only make our employees more fit and capable but also decrease health insurance costs and uses. However it is still not used as much as it should be.
Gyms and physical fitness incentives are a great idea. After a recent injury, I was able to utilize our department gym to continue at-home physical therapy following a knee reconstruction surgery. Unfortunately, even with the gym available 24/7 at no cost, bot enough people take advantage of this. I am too guilty.
I believe this module did a good job of pointing out an often over looked issue in law enforcement - fatigue. It has become an almost expected part of the job to work extra duty and over time to make ends meet. Many officers are working 18 hour days, or working all of their off days and the effects on both productivity and decision making on shift can be detrimental.
One thing my department has done is limit the hours an officer can work to 16 per 24. Also, they require an eight-hour break before the first shift of a tour. Although this doesn't solve the problem it is a measure that was put in place to help officers not get over exhausted.
Agreed. It seems its almost become common place, just something that just is and should be accepted.
I agree that fatigue is overlooked in our profession. We all are concentrating on chasing the dollar and will sleep when we are able to. This is not healthy, and I find myself becoming a victim to this as our agency allows for secondary employment as well. I certainly take advantage of my fair share in chasing the pot of gold but have recently stepped back and have noticed a change already. Through working long hours, we do seem to lack in better productivity as well as allowing it to hinder our decision-making ability in some situations. Through self-reflection, I hope that I can turn the hands of time in my favor.
The agency I spent the bulk of my LEO career had a TI simulator. Similar to what we did for the cadets or for the officer attending in-service, we provided some scenario training for our CPA (Citizen Police Academy), college students, leadership groups and the media. At times we allowed the public to interact with an instructor in a high-gear suit. These experiences were well-received by all the parties who participated and gave them an idea of how dynamic uses of force are for a police officer.
Overall wellness is something my department has taken great strides to address. We currently have several wellness committees including: social wellness, financial wellness, physical wellness, and mental wellness. Each of the committees is made up of officers from all levels and groups within the department. They are tasked by the chief to focus efforts on their specific area, with the goal of having officers who are well overall. The research mentioned in the lesson exemplified the need for officers to be physically, emotionally, and mentally well. To the extent we can, our department is trying to minimize or eliminate errors made by officers which are caused by some of the most common human factors. I am on the social wellness committee and we have two main tasks. The first, is we implemented a mentor program and assign a mentor to every new employee of the department. Second, we are tasked with planning social events for officers or also for officers and their families. We just started these committees in 2020, however the benefits are already starting to become apparent.
This is an awesome idea. I really like the attention to financial wellness especially. I see a lot of our guys get dependent on extra duty details to make ends meet and they really end up stretching themselves way too thin. I'd like to see some basic budgeting skills (maybe something along the lines of Dave Ramsey) taught as a class in academies.
Absolutely Robert! I wish the Dave Ramsey course was given to all students in high school, but since it's not, I wish more departments would provide it to their officers. Often, officers are working too many overtime hours, not because they want to, but because they are in debt because they never learned to manage money. This not only provides added stress at work, but also at home.
This is a great idea. I like the idea of developing committees to help provide insight and solutions for wellness programs. This is something I will be looking at further and trying to implement in my department.
Educating the public on the ins and outs of a LEO's experiences under stress really resonates in this module. So often it is apparent that the media drives so many of the debates on whether an officer acted inappropriately or within law and policy. These debates often begin having already identified an officer as having been in the wrong. This is very prevalent most recently.
Our Department has begun inviting community members and media representatives to experience the FATS machine. Placing these folks in the officers' shoes has had a tremendous effect on news reporting locally and in our community engagement summits. Our Chief supports this endeavor and would even like to expand its reach. I concur and believe this is a community investment opportunity.
I agree Kenneth, we must make time to educate the public on what we really do as officers, and how fast we have to make decisions. The media always portray negative stories about police officer, you rarely see something positive in the news about law enforcement officers.
One the of the biggest human factors that agencies must consider is fatigue. As noted by Harrington (2017) “Public Safety is a 24-7 operation, fatigue can easily settle and cause numerous unintentional health and safety consequences.” I didn’t really take any secondary employment into consideration when initially thinking about working at my police agency. Before this module, it was easy to assume that when people were done with their shifts they went into their off days and started their rest cycle.
I can see now how those who work a secondary employment, especially when it's directly related to law enforcement, can never enter a rest cycle. This is bound to have a detrimental effect on the officers health over time and sure increase stress and fatigue.
Captain- I concur- we have seen recent events in my agency with mandatory OT and off-duty work having stretched officers too far. We have put some limits in place to curb this. However, they have not been in place quite long enough to pull any data to gauge their effectiveness. I would be shocked if there is not a positive effect.
Best and stay safe-
Fatigue is one of the major factors of our job. Officers are working long shifts and then having to work off duty to make ends meet and provide for their family. Officers should be getting an appropriate amount of sleep in order to let their body and mind rest as often as possible. Stress is also a major factor, because when officers have to work overtime they are taking away family time. this is something that should always be addressed in every agency.
I 100% agree. I understood that officer can work side jobs, but I never realized how impactful it can be and that they were never really entering into a rest cycle.
I agree as well. I see it too often at my Agency that Officers become fatigued due to the number of details they work. This also affects their primary job because the focus is now on details and not on their job and it shows in their quality of work. I have been guilty of this at times where I used to find myself working a regular day shift and then through the night only to get a few hours of sleep before repeating the cycle.
I agree that our officers are working long shifts and then turning around to work on their off days. Too much fatigue and stress are of great concern and should be monitored by the departments. Increased pay will certainly help reduce the number of extra shifts that are being worked.
I agree with you Kevin. Increased pay and time dedicated to physical fitness should be allowed during shifts. Then you could hold quarterly fitness evaluations so the officers are held accountable to using the time to actually improve their overall health.
This section should be taught to all new recruits or officers at a department. Our PD has a POST (Police Officer Support Team) team. We are really starting to put an emphasis on officers mental and physical well being by having this team. It is a team of peers that officers can reach out to if they are having issues either at work or outside of work. All conversations are private and confidential so officer can speak freely. It s really helping officer become better all the way around and deal with stress in a positive way
Physical Fitness to me is a major Human Factor that affects officers of all ages. The Corrections Dept. here are working 12hour shifts. We have many young officers that come to work in great physical condition, but when it comes time for them to go to the post academy, many of them have become woefully out of shape. I sometimes feel it has to do with the 12hour shifts. By the time officers are through with work, they don`t have the motivation to do anything.
I agree because now that we are on 12 hour shifts on patrol, all I want to do when I get off shift is to rest. I am mentally drained and going to workout is not in my vocabulary when i am just constantly wore out.
It is important for leaders to recognize the impact human factors such as physical conditioning, fatigue, and stress have on an officer and their work performance. This is an area that I really think is important as not dealing with stress and fatigue properly can have lasting impacts on the wellbeing of the officer. It can be difficult for officers to take time for themselves as we are hard wired to serve others. We as leaders must stress the importance of rest and dealing with stress in constructive manners to reduce negative impacts in the work place.
This area of human factors, which directly address officer wellness, is incredibly crucial to modern law enforcement. We finally recognize the direct effects of cumulative stress and fatigue on the officer's ability to perform and serve the public. Unfortunately, the recent push to defund police will likely create situations where fewer officers are available to do the same (or possibly more) work. This may have the effect of creating greater stress and fatigue. Somehow we need to find a way to balance all this and find a better way to humanize officers in the public's eyes.
I definitely agree with several parts of this lesson regarding the importance of physical fitness. I especially liked the statement that said if you knew you would be fighting for your life in six months, you would get in shape. I believe that failing to acknowledge that you may have to fight for life any given day is not wise. In this business fitness is extremely important.
I agree. Fitness is a area that should be given the same attention as developing our tactical skills. Fitness can also help an officer cope with stress and fatigue in a positive way, by providing an outlet.
I agree. When it was put like that it was really an eye opener. SO many times we put physical fitness on the back burner because we are doing so many other things. It should be at the forefront and the importance of it stressed to all employees of the pd
This module is equally important to the individual as it is to leadership. To impact reducing stress, fatigue and promote physical fitness, it's truly a team effort between the employee and the employer because what we do at work largely affects all three areas. It is irresponsible for leadership to neglect these areas of their responsibility. If these areas aren't important to leadership, it will likely have an negative impact on the officer and in turn reduce the level of service to the community and the overall health of the officer.
Fatigue will always be a major component for the duration of our professional careers. I believe most of this fatigue is brought on by ourselves and the lifestyles we choose to live. As most of us are “alphas,” we have a pattern of living beyond our means. Living beyond our means puts in a position where we are forced to work extra duty. To have the life off duty that we want to live forces us to face and deal with the fatigue. This cycle is vicious and I lived it for over 15 years. My health deteriorated over the years and now I believe that time on earth is more important than the money. I miss having the lifestyle I once had, but the enjoyment of a full night’s sleep and less fatigue is much better deal in my opinion.
Of the “3 Human Factors with the Greatest Influence,” the Effects of Fatigue is a topic that I can relate to the most. Working a rotating night shift schedule for 15 years has allowed me to get accustomed to the lifestyle of fatigue. Personally, I do not know many officers that the effects of fatigue haven’t hit at some point. As leaders, we must take care of our officers and encourage a healthy lifestyle, which will help when fatigue sets in. Taking advantage of days off, disconnecting from work for a while will help recharge those batteries.
I could not agree more. At some point, we are all fatigued, and all too often, it is the same officers volunteering for overtime and extra duty details, sometimes for the money and sometimes to be involved. I, too, find myself in this category of fatigued. I usually have what most people would consider an unhealthy amount of black coffee and carry on. These extra hours may be necessary at times, but sometimes we must learn our limits and become better at delegating to others.
I never had to wait for a stop sign to turn green, did you? It is funny now, but as a new officer, it happened to me. As a new patrol sergeant, I came upon more than one overtime hound waiting at stop signs. Fatigue is real at any job but we all understand the dangers of sleeping in a patrol car or even losing focus as the shift comes to an end. Being human is required to do the job, Judge Dred has not been invented yet. We need to promote healthy choices as leaders in a career field with the highest demands of stress, I cannot imagine what it would do to my mind if I was not able to climb a flight of stairs when a fellow officer needed help or a citizen was in need. Health is not just the treadmill and weight room, it is what we eat and how we sleep, it is what we do with our downtime. As leaders let's all encourage others to live healthy lives.
Unfortunately, i think human factors of fatigue and stress will always be a part of law enforcement and public safety. We may not be able to eliminate these so we must learn to manage them. Law enforcement is constantly under the public's eye even more so with social media adding to an already stressful profession. to compound the stress is the fatigue of shift work and man power shortages. Thankfully stress management was already discussed. The law enforcement professional should have their time for rest and recharge when they're off from work.
They should, but unfortunately many do not. Those dedicated to the profession sometimes have issues “letting go” at the end of the shift, or days off. Especially if an officer is involved with extra duties and responsibilities, sometimes days off are limited. Despite busy schedules, we need to take advantage of days off and anytime we can disconnect for a while.
I agree. We all need to find ways to rest and recharge away from work. This might mean working less overtime or special duty shifts and instead taking time to focus on our own physical and mental wellbeing and that of our families.
With all of the concern given to fatigue, as evidenced by the IACP resolution, countering the challenges requires a change in the profession's culture. The challenges placed on the profession's members counter the data and science behind the human factor's dangers. For many, with the 12+ hour rotations and switching from days to nights and supervisors glued to a phone 24/7, we are openly placing our people at risk. We have prioritized the "what" we do more than creating new ways to meet the changing requirements placed on us by society while maintaining the force.
It's important to remember at the end of the day, we're all human. We need to take care of our bodies and get plenty of rest to be effective at work. We as leaders also need to be aware of the stresses that our staff feel and recognize when it is time to pull them back and mitigate that stress as much as we can. My agency has a policy that unless there is an emergency situation, all staff must have at least 8 hours between shifts to allow for proper rest. I find it amazing how debilitating fatigue can be on good decision making and a person's ability to stay focused.
Internal conflict, I feel is that the secondary employer tends to pay more to the Officers than the department and at that point he or she depends on that money to sustain their current life style and may be deferent from the departmental policy and procedures to accommodate the secondary employer. I have noticed one thing is that the officers start to feel loyalty to the secondary officer has a internal conflict.
There were a lot of very good points made during this module. Fatigue plays such a large factor in our decision making process. As a leader this should be taken into account when allowing our personal to work a large amount of overtime, extending shifts, and assignments to special details. From having an individual experiencing fatigue may cause sooner burn out then possibly the next individual.
I agree. I have had a few staff members that I have had to deny overtime details to because I recognized they were working too much. They claimed they were fine and not fatigued, however I knew it was my duty to make sure they got enough time away from work for their wellbeing.
It is important for us to rest, relax and recharge when not at work. I must admit that I do have to learn to have time for myself when not on the clock. Too often do i find myself still working even when away on a much needed vacation. I cant do anyone any good being burned out.
The point about life after we finish this career hit home with me, I don't want to leave this job as a burnout. Today's leaders need to keep inspiring every officer to make healthy lifestyle choices.
While we still have a long way to go in the way of physical and mental health services for law enforcement, the steps we have taken over the last three decades are impressive. My agency has a fully staffed gym (weights, cardio, etc.) along with a physical fitness incentive. The mental health services that were hidden away years ago are now advertised and the stigma attached seems to be waning. We are moving in the right direction.
I totally agree with you we are moving in the right direction. Along with the physical health the mental health services are no doubt just as important.
I agree that we still have a long way to go in in taking care of our own. Their physical and mental health should be paramount especially with the political climate we currently face. Everything we do continues to be scrutinized (both on and off duty) and there are plenty of people waiting to “Monday morning quarterback” us. Our Sheriff pays for a monthly gym membership for every Deputy, as long as we go a minimum of ten days each month. It has been a legitimate lifesaver for some of our people in need of a positive stress reliever.
That`s a great idea, about the gym memberships. We have a small gym that is used for the academy recruits. It`s recently been opened to everyone to use as well. I know our Sheriff was paying for a certain member of spots at one of the local cross fit gyms as well.
Our Police Department takes physical and mental fitness seriously, they offer a gym that is accessible 24 hours a day and we have the Employee Assistance Program which offers counseling for free for officers and their families. We have to take control of our lives and make it important that we take care of our well being.
Exactly Nicole. My agency offers so much more in 2021 than it did even twenty years ago. While we can never stop improving in facilitating the services, we are making progress.
Our department as well take physical fitness and mental fitness seriously. The department recently opened a fitness center; for officers to workout and take care of themselves. The agency also provides counseling for anyone who needs someone to talk to. At the end of the day; it starts and ends with us. Self accountability........
It’s interesting how we all know the human factors and how it effects our bodies in connection with difficult situations, yet we do very little for ourselves and others to help it. As I’ve aged, the effects that stress and fatigue have on me has dramatically increased. Probably due to my lack of physical fitness. I see it in my staff as well, the irritability, mood swings, impaired decision making. Over the last year it has been particularly difficult with training. In my case, I see staff responding to situations, wishing they had handled things better. I can’t blame them, because for us as an agency, we haven’t been able to do any defensive tactics or use of force training in over a year. 2020 was a doozy for everyone and we will suffer the consequences of that year for many more. Now is when our peer support teams should pick up the pace. Many pushed their way through last year…waiting for relief. Emergency staffing, riots, pandemic, distance learning, isolation, on top of our already stress filled lives. I am forever chasing my tail.
Jacqueline I can totally relate. It has been a tough year in 2020. But it is a new year and we made it through and with our of our heart and commitment to law enforcement we will continue on!
Good information and very practical. It is clear that in today's fast paced world of law enforcement it seems none stop. Officers tend to continually work. This is magnified when officers work extra jobs trying to compensate for low wages. It is an issue with overtime demands due to staffing issues. All of this creates a recipe for significant human factor conditions impact. It is important that we work to create a culture to focus on officer well-being. It is important that we work to educate the public on how human factors impact officer performance and to humanize the officers.
Law enforcement is like any other government agency in that change is either sudden (usually due to a knee-jerk reaction which are usually wrong) of very slow incremental change. Physical and mental fitness have been important to cops since i got into law enforcement. They just haven't been important to administrators and agencies. This is either due to culture where well being hasn't been valued or its due to a lack of funding/support.
My generation (gen x) and Millennials start to occupy top positions in government, there will be a shift. We grew up in a time where more importance has been placed on physical, mental health, and work/life balance. Hopefully, that will translate into more funding/support.
Physical Conditioning, Fatigue and Stress.
I know that during the summer months that many in my agency will forced to work multiple double shifts per week. This has been the case for decades as from an HR standpoint it is cheaper to pay someone OT then hire new personnel to reduce the amount of OT. This creates untold stress on our employees and directly effects their physical conditioning. After working 3 additional shifts through the week often times they are to fatigued to work out and choose to sleep and spend time with their families. As leaders it is incumbent on us to find creative ways to still allow for physical conditioning which has a direct effect on the fatigue and stress.
This lesson discussed the 3 human factors being physical conditioning, stress, and fatigue. In law enforcement, fatigue and stress seem to be huge causes of burnout. We work a lot of strange hours often with no consistency. I have learned that working night shift can often increase that fatigue and stress even if sometimes are shifts seem to be less busy. The lack of sleep, extreme intake of caffeine, and our personal lives demanding us to be awake during the day when most people are creates additional stress and overall is most likely negatively impacting our health. As administration, this should be extremely important and every effort should be made to not constantly flex shifts for those individuals that are already working odd hours. When they have to flip flop for trainings or other extra duties, going night shift to day shift is very challenging.
I agree having worked midnights for years; going to days from mids on a double is difficult. I did find working out on midnight shift to be easier though as call volume is usually reduced and from a corrections view the inmates are most often times sleeping in between round checks. Poor nutrition on midnights was also an issue with very limited food choices if personnel failed to bring their own food.
I agree, it is very challenging. In our agency we grant and approve overtime based on seniority like most places. We constantly deal with the situation where junior staff get repeatedly forced to work overtime. Our department does have mandated that a person cannot work more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period and they must have at least 8 hours of rest in between shifts. BUT I see the same junior staff working their whole rotation on forced overtime and it really deflates me when senior staff do not step up. Eventually the junior staff gets burned out and pissed because nobody stepped up to help them. Yet in my position, what can I do to help that situation? I cannot force a senior staff member to take their place and I cannot change my staffing requirements. This also borders on union stuff but I hear what you’re saying.
I think this is an area our office does fairly well at, for the most part. We have two gyms for employees and groups that regularly encourage each other to go. The sheriff also pays for MMA type training for anyone who wants to attend. They offer options for mental health regularly. However, we have a lot of off duty employment and traffic enforcement grants that we could probably regulated better, all though that might incite a riot of its own. And I'm not a fan of our phone policy since it constantly goes off from text, calls and emails...sometimes it feels like you never get away from work. Like anything, there are ways to make improvements.
I personally feel that physical fitness alone can dramatically help improve all three factors.
Speaking of factors, does anyone have any recent studies or info on shift changes? Our shifts rotate between day and night every 28 days, 12 hour shifts with a three-day weekend every other week. The 28-day part has been something that several have felt needs to change for years now. Some would prefer a permanent schedule. Anyone have a favorite rotating shift schedule?
IMHO the 12 hr shift with permanent nights is my favorite.
COVID 19. Riots. Pipeline. Media. Politicians.
Human factors affect us all. The line officers have been stretched so thin in the past few years but most recently, 2020. Shift coverages have changed social distancing, masks, political upheaval, riots, anti-law enforcement rhetoric. What more can we possibly ask of our officers? Stress levels are likely at an all-time high. Activity is at an all-time low. Morale has suffered. All this has to equal health issues that we likely don't even see yet.
I know for myself, stress causes me a lack of sleep or at least restful sleep. How often I wake up thinking about work-related topics is amazing and terrible. Unfortunately, sometimes it seems like we're fighting each other internally and at the same time, we're getting the squeeze from external sources. In my agency, we've started down a path to assist our officers with mental health issues by partnering with a psychologist. We have also started a peer support group. We pay our officers while they are working out on duty. The goal here is to at least manage the stress our officers feel.
Human Factors are extremely important when it comes to todays policing and education. I think our department does a lot of great things to help our officers promote how to deal with stress in a healthy way but I don’t know that as leaders we tell our people enough when we think they need a break. This is where the officer’s individual ego gets in the way. Some of the great things our department offers are things like a workout facility just for our employees to include weights and cardio, we offer an employee assistance program along with a department POST Team or Police Officer Support Team. We also officer education for citizens in the form of teen and citizen academies. We can always add more education though about officer wellness. On the negative side, I do not hear many supervisors telling their people when they think they have worked too many hours. Shift work especially for many of the night shift officers can be a difficult task for the human mind and spirit. I also think it is especially important that we push training and education on the young officers at the beginning of their career as they will be the ones working many of the tough shifts. It will also help prepare them for the rest of their career.
This is an area that every Law Enforcement Officer is aware of however; most do not correct negative behavior. There is always some reason we cannot get enough sleep or eat properly. The gym always comes last in our order of things to do. The allure of secondary employment and overtime seem to be a way to better yourself. Ironically it tends to be out downfall.
I agree, but I think the overtime habit is developed early in our career, and unfortunately before we realize it, we have built a pattern of many years of side jobs and overtime. As a supervisor you want to look at your people and tell them, "ok it’s time to go home," but you also are affecting their livelihood. Our department does have restrictions on the number of hours worked in a 24-hour period, but I still believe it’s too high. The question becomes where is the balance between working to provide and taking care of yourself and the community.
I agree with you Andy and since I work with Will, believe he would too. We have restrictions on the hours they can work as well, but don't strictly enforce them for the same reasons you mentioned. We typically leave that up to their sergeants to address if it appears the OT and Off-duty is affecting their scheduled work. I typically try to tell the new guys DO NOT budget your OT or off duty every, but realize I have been slipping on that advise lately. Life v. Livelihood
I couldn't have put that better William. Most days I feel like a rubber band in that I'm stretched so far I feel as though I could snap. Time, where does it go? Being able to workout on duty is a huge benefit that we have in my agency. One area not really covered is the inability to get away from work. As administrators, at least here, we're continually contacted off duty (email, phone, text, zoom, etc.)
Certainly agree with Dr. Harrington's "BIG 3" human factors with the greatest influence.
1) Physical Conditioning
2) Effects of Fatigue
3) Effects of Stress
We as agencies certainly need to do more and do better for our employees. I can admit that I have been one of those people driving around in the middle of the night at 0300 hours after a long shift and not really realize how I ended up from point A to point B. Interesting comment made by Harrington when she says driving around totally fatigued is like driving around at .10. I know I myself have pushed our agency to do better by building a gym where our deputies can go in, work out and reduce some stress along with getting some physical conditioning. Nothing has changed yet but there are still more conversations to be had!
This module explained how detrimental and important an officers' health and mental ability can affect the duties and reactions on the job. A police officer's profession is a greater risk than any paying career due to the heightened risk of violence and attacks. Police officers are a critical factor in the service of first responders. The priorities of police officers are to protect and serve the community. A profession in law enforcement is mentally challenging. Officers deal with long hours, rotating shifts, violent situations, and a decrease in public support. The career often leads to a “numb” emotional state of mind that can create chronic stress. The officers’ duties, shift work, extra duty and other obstacles that lead to fatigue can drastically effect overall, mental and physical ability. This has been a major impact on how agencies and departments are creating policies and procedures to train officers how to deal with these type of situations. In a recent training, deputies were advised of how long shifts such as 12 hour or longer rotation can lead to short and long term effects on the body. As a result, it can play a major role on who law enforcement respond when placed in high-risk situations.
This module served as a great reminder of the three human factors with the greatest influence over a person’s behavior in a stressful situation. I like how Det. Harrington tied in Dr. Anderson’s four lifestyle keys (nutrition, exercise, relaxation and restful sleep) to IACP’s declaration of being dedicated to regulate, by policy, officer fatigue as well as citing Lt. Col. Dave Grossman’s (ret) On Combat (great book!). As leaders, we need to be cognizant of not only our own environment, but also everyone in our organization. One person spinning out of control can have an incredibly damaging effect on an agency. However, the emphasis should be on employee health and survival…not just the agency’s health and survival, particularly when something bad happens. Developing relationships internally with staff, and externally with the community, is so important prior to some critical incident happening.
I would go as far to say: The health and well being of the department depends solely on the health and well being of the employee.
It certainly is not a new concept that stress, lack of physical conditioning, and fatigue have a negative effect on performance. What was interesting to hear in this lecture is that current research emphasizes the need for proactive response to human error. Soon, it may not be enough to state that these factors influence our response in critical incidents without taking action, because the public will expect that we take preventative measures to minimize the effect of human factors before a critical incident occurs. We have a personal responsibility to be mentally and physically fit for ourselves, our organization, and our communities. Dr. Harrington pointed out that we also have a responsibility to educate the public about human factors, and we certainly should, because discussing human error after a critical incident is not the ideal time to persuade anyone that you are human. These conversations can only happen if we build strong community connections and open dialogue on difficult topics, such as UOF. Our strategy has to be proactive and we have to look for positive ways to convey what our profession is about, how we are trained, and what is expected of the public when they have contact with the police.
Educating the public I think is a huge thing. We're viewed, at times, like robots who shouldn't make mistakes. Like the speaker said, TV and movies do us zero favor. We have to put ourselves out for the public to see and humanize our officers in this hampster wheel of negative law enforcement rhetoric.
I agree. The part on making sure to consider human factors as a part of incident review or investigation. This will identify areas for improvement or at the least offer a more constructive explanation for what had occurred and why. We must be proactive in the effort.
This learning lesson was a great reminder of how important it is to take care of ourselves and to be aware of the people around us. As it stated, sometimes people overlook signs on themselves so it is important we are looking out for each other.
I also believe that situational awareness is something that we should be hitting on more often. It is something that people over look far too often.
This unit contained some great information about human factors. I personally enjoy when the public becomes educated on why we don't shoot the gun out of the bad guys hand when he is attacking us or others. I enjoy citizen academy type experiences that recreate stressful situations and their use of force. Inevitably the citizen shoots someone who is unarmed or freezes in the scenario and is stabbed/shot. The more non law enforcement can experience this kind of training the better.
It would be a good idea (but someone would probably frown upon it) to have a few TV personalities come to a range and go through some of the shoot/no-shoot scenarios. Or, accompany us on a fatal crash. How about the attempt to subdue the next person who isn't fond of the idea of going to jail.
We have to educate and promote ourselves. No one else is going to do this for us, that's evident.
While I am sure that there are many more human factors that influence an officer and the public he or she serves, the three discussed in this presentation are probably the biggest and easiest to address. My department seriously started discussing health and wellness in 2019. It started with department wide training on First Responder suicides and kind of morphed from there. Physical Conditioning has always been a big one. This was a big part every law enforcement officers initial training but once an officer gets to a department it falls by the wayside. Some departments have instituted mandatory fitness tests but I think the results are still out on the effectiveness of these programs since every agency has its own nuances to consider. I work at a university police department. In 2020 my department provided free gym memberships to all staff. This allowed employees to workout at any of the gym facilities on campus. I seem to be constantly reminding my junior leaders to keep an eye out for the effects of fatigue and stress. It's easy to think that just because we work on a university campus that fatigue and stress do not apply. Since 2014, our staff have responded to civil unrest throughout the St. Louis metropolitan region and have faced the same trials and tribulations as everyone else. Having served in the Army Reserve and having dealt with PTSD myself, I quickly saw the effects these continued deployments in support of other agencies was having on staff. I think the forming of a committee or working group and some of the other suggestions offered by the presenter to address these issue was appropriate. I think one thing that was not addressed was the importance of having a police chaplain program. programs such as this give staff another confidential means to address stress and fatigue.
This module was a good reminder on the importance of taking care of yourself and that it is not all your employers responsibility. We have a responsibility to ourselves and our families as well. In recent years our agency has taken a very proactive role in helping with physical incentives, mental health and emotional support which I think is great. The benefits of staying in shape, reducing stress and getting the appropriate amount of sleep are well worth the extra effort.
This module had a lot of good reminders for officer wellness and safety. Wellness and safety go hand in hand with each other. There can sometimes be a fine line that we walk when it comes to fatigue and stress, specifically pertaining to extended work hours. How many times are we staying late beyond shift or volunteering to come in on our days off for an event? It seems as if sometimes our greatest strength (dedication, to serve and protect) can sometimes be a stressor on our personal and physical lives. This module reminded me to take a step back and take care of my personal physical and mental health
Thankfully there has been an increased awareness and emphasis on wellness in my agency. Physical fitness and mental well being are often discussed and encouraged. This not only keeps the deputies safe on the job but it enhances their personal life as well. My hope is this increased emphasis will lengthen the lifespan for law enforcement and corrections staff.
I agree, we have the same mindset in our agency as well. Its amazing how much this has come to light in such a short period of time…or maybe I am paying more attention to it as I am getting older. I wish we could get to the point where our insurance would pay for a gym membership, while we do have a nice gym at our PD it can be tough to get there on days off.
I appreciated the focus of this module. Unfortunately, putting physical/mental fitness gets put on the back burner due to the officer's busy work and family schedules. I order to try and create a culture of wellness at RPD, physical fitness has been integrated into the Academy. It's easy to tell officers to try and work in a physical fitness regime into their daily lives. We wanted to walk the walk and actually schedule PT into our Academy. We want officers to recognize physical fitness and therefore overall wellness as an essential part of life.
I agree that getting the new recruits on the right path is important when it comes to physical fitness. I think what really goes a long way is for leaders and peers to model how they incorporate physical fitness into their daily lives and to encourage new hires to join the team effort to stay safe. When fitness becomes a part of the culture it is more difficult for people to come up with excuses not to take care of themselves. Encouragement and support from our peers can go a long way to motivate us.
This lecture was a good reminder on the human factors in law enforcement. It was an important reminder to take personal ownership in your own wellbeing, physical fitness and mental health. As mentioned, agencies can struggle with budgetary issues related to officer wellness, physically fitness, and mental health. With that said, I have seen in recent years an increased importance being placed on officer wellness initiative. I believe this is due to the recognized increase in office suicide rate as well as PTSD retirement claims. More departments are developing officer wellness programs and address both physical fitness as well as mental health. This is long over due.
I'm proud of the steps RPD has taken to increase awareness for the importance of officer wellness. Law enforcement has recognized that being physical fit and having an established wellness program can #1 save lives and #2 save money. This is a step in the right direction and important to keep moving forward.
Various programs address wellness from a self-awareness perspective; getting a change in law enforcement culture to support treating the officers as human beings is needed. Too many leaders state their care and concern for the troops, yet they fail to execute or model a good example. This course's psychological aspects are rooted in self-awareness, for individuals to reflect on their values and beliefs and understand their role in the challenges. Resiliency and its many components are challenging to teach in a profession that treats its personnel as budgetary line items. We recognize these challenges in young people and individuals that have significant crises. However, the profession is known for having incredible challenges with character and self-destructive behaviors, to ignore known, proven, highly successful, inexpensive, and engaging programs.
A lot of good reminders this module. A good reminder that we need to take care of ourselves both physically and mentally.
I agree with you Chad. We do need reminders to take care of ourselves especially when outside of the work place.
This lecture was a good reminder that physical fitness, and positive stress relief can have a real affect on how we present ourselves each day. As a leader, we need to model these behaviors within our organization. I have read articles about police agencies making an hour at the end of your shift a mandatory gym time. The officer is paid to use the gym as part of their daily shift. I believe this is quite forward thinking and would encourage this to become common place.
This lesson really hit home as l have experienced the effects of stress after an off duty injury. Additionally, I have seen close friends in law enforcement become chemically dependent of norcos. Others have become alcoholics and have been involved in traffic accidents, to the point one was a fatality. The point l am trying to make is that law enforcement institutions have to make a cultural change to allow the officers to say, “I am not okay” and speak up after a critical incident. Unfortunately the stigma of asking for help is being viewed as a sign of weakness. This has diminished the officers’ ability to seek assistance from peers or other professionals. Law enforcement is a peer survival driven profession. More awareness on Officer wellness needs to become a priority here in California and in our nation. First responders need more resources available to them and leaders have to pay attention to their personnel for signs of withdraw and/or maladaptive behaviors that could be a sign of the officer’s experiencing trauma or PSTI.
As leaders we have to work on stress prevention rather than mitigation. Once our people show signs of cumulative stress or depression we already failed. Another big factor is internal conflict which causes more stress for our officers that the dangers of the job. As leaders we have to be aware of this and it is vital for us to mitigate any type of additional stress within our walls of the department. It is also important for all members of the institution to practice a balanced healthy life style to maintain resilience. After all, our people deserve a good place to work. Officers with less stress will be more effectively serving the public.
Now more than ever, we (Law Enforcement) needs to educate the general public on the human factors that effect us and how we do our jobs. The three specific ones mentioned- Physical Conditioning, Fatigue, and Stress all directly effect our performance and how the public perceives us, both positive and negative. It's very easy for those who don't understand- or choose not to- that we are human, with feelings, emotions and physical reactions. Time spent on public education on the front end will hopefully lead to greater understanding when an incident occurs. But the fact remains that we need to take care of ourselves and each other- physically and mentally, if we hope to survive.
I fully agree Jim. There needs to be greater education of the public on the effects of a law enforcement career has on officers. Additionally department are starting to come around on the importance of officer wellness programs and investing funds in those programs. With that said, we shouldn't wait around for departments to create a wellness program to address our own physical fitness and mental health. We should be proactive in our own wellness.
This is an excellent module and comes at an excellent time with everything going on in our society. Stress is high and It definitely hits home with both the mental health side of things and the physical health side of things. I know for us right now, because of COVID and having to quarantine, many of our officers are working extra hours. If we don't actively monitor it can definitely cause fatigue where mistakes or officer safety mistakes can be made. We have been trying to adjust schedules and rotate some of our field staff to work in the jail to give some people some time off. In addition, we have added another gym to our office and encourage individuals to use it if they can. I believe that using the gym once a day can greatly reduce stress and get rid of those bad hormonal toxins from being stressed. It is something I need to do every day to clear my mind and feel healthier.
What a novel idea...adding a gym! And with great equipment, I hope. I find it disheartening some agencies preach health, fitness and wellness but do little, if any, to deliver quality equipment and guidance. It is certainly NOT all the agency's responsibility and I get that. However, it is really weird that nearly every firehouse I have ever been to across this country, they have some kind of gym inside of it and with pretty decent equipment. Someone should take some notes because the fire guys and gals must be doing something right!
Physical condition, fatigue, and stress. Those three human factors have the greatest influence on us as police officers. Physical conditioning is something that I have improving for myself over the last few years. It took me time to realize how important it is. I think as leaders we need to have these important conversations with the people we work with. Understanding that shift work can be detrimental to our health, we need to factor that in when scheduling department wide trainings as well as consider if moving to a different type of schedule would be beneficial. Physical conditioning can be a solution to those struggling with stress and fatigue.
Joseph, I agree with what you stated regarding scheduling trainings around shift work and keeping the effects of scheduling in mind in regards to shift rotation.
In the module, Human Factors and Officer Resiliency, Harrington discussed the importance of the three human factors that can have a great deal of influence on improving safety. I have experienced that physical conditioning has given me the tactical edge in both my mental and physical fitness throughout my job duties. This area has allowed me to relieve stress after work and on my days off, and gives me the confidence when dealing with the general public. Although I have been lacking in this area as of late, I have realized how important it has been in my life while on and off duty.
I agree. I make it a point every day to go to the gym. It is my hour and a half every day where I can clear my mind and not think of work-related items. It helps me with the mental health aspects of the job. In addition, much like you mentioned it has given me more confidence in my abilities to work through rapidly evolving situations. We also know from training and experience that oftentimes suspects will size officers up and if they suspect that the officer is unsure of themselves they are more apt to resist that officer.
I agree. Since I have been chief (15 months) I have been for the most part sitting at a desk or attending meetings. I can feel the stress and weight keeping up. I need to get back into a regular workout schedule.
Human factors play a critical role in police officers' well-being, emphasizing physical conditioning, fatigue, and stress. Regarding long work hours, horrible work schedules, and mostly sedentary conditions, the demands of the job contribute to many of our officers being out of shape and in poor health.
Concerning physical fitness, the biggest problem I see is complacency, a common human characteristic. Ms. Harrington used the example that if an officer knew in six months that they would be in a fight for their life, would they start training for that fight now? The answer is probably yes.
As we are all well aware, law enforcement is a dangerous profession. The bottom line is that officers should be fit enough to perform the task required for their position. This will increase the probability of themselves and their fellow officers going home at the end of their shift. As leaders, we need to actively model and encourage this mindset.
I agree on the example Dr Harrington gave of "If an Officer knew in six months..." being a good example. i try and work out but often find "other things" take precedence when in reality, I make a lot of excuses. I know how much better I feel when I do work out, and it does effect Officer presence and confidence. The nature of our work should be reason enough, but a reminder such as this example is often needed to hit things home.
Very true. It is certainly easy to fall into an unhealthy groove and make excuses for not taking care of ourselves.
I agree James. Every time I go to qualify at the range I leave thinking to myself that I should shoot more often but unfortunately I don't usually follow through on it. I do exercise frequently so I at least have that going for me.
Your comment is spot on. Complacency is a battle many struggle with. I also liked the example of knowing you'll be in a fight in six months. I have to believe everybody would have the same answer to that question but I often find other things to occupy my time and my priorities get out of line.
This module discussed Physical and mental fitness, mental fatigue, and the effects of stress on the body. These are three issues all law enforcement officers should take seriously. I read a lot of comments about the 12 hour shift work being the causer, I agree to an extent, but i believe it is just one part of the issue. When I read some of the comments posted it sounds like changing the schedule is going to be a fix- everything solution, which, I think is just silly.
I agree that changing the schedule is not a fix everything solution. If people don't take their health seriously then changing the schedule is only applying a band-aid to the issue at hand. At my agency, we work an 8 week rotating schedule but work 10's instead of 12's. There has been some discussion from patrol deputies about switching to a 12hr schedule but I don't think that would be beneficial in the long run.
Schedules created by your employer are important but just as important is what you are doing away from work. For me I enjoy a 12 hour shift because I am at work or resting, relaxing in my 12 off. When I work a 10 or an 8 I end up doing all sorts of other family related activities and typically are lest rested for work.
I think Robert brings up a good point. Department's look at schedules vs. work life balance but never consider what an officer does with their off time and how it can impact the agency. Many officers do A LOT of secondary. Sometimes this can have a negative/ cumulative impact on an officers performance at their primary place of employment. My department limits the number of hours a person can work secondary to ensure that the staff member has time to decompress. While not discussed, I think that many officers (like everyone else) find themselves taking care of elderly parents. This creates a lot of additional stress and time commitment that goes unnoticed by most employers. Leaders and employees who have open and honest dialogues should be able to discuss these issues and develop possible remediation's that benefit both the organization and the employee.
Human factors play a crucial part in how an agency can improve the public’s education concerning safety in the community. It is critical that human factors be addressed in the law enforcement field. Officers typically do not allow themselves to think about the emotional aspect of their duties. As leaders we need to assist those under our command to work on deliberately enhancing their emotional needs. This would help in the safety of the community and our officers.
Human Factors and leadership
Long shift work and overtime can affect job performance. I have been impacted by some of these conditions. I try and keep a routine exercise plan. I try to be persistent; I find this can help with stress and allow your body to get the rest and relaxation it needs
Two things that are a cops greatest enemy, OT and details. Since most agencies do not pay that well many officers elect to grab up as many details as allowed or work as much extra OT they can get their hands on. Our agency has a 16 hour rule that forces officers to have at least an 8 hour break between details, OT and normal shift duties. Lump this in with a revolving 12 hour shift and it makes for deputies who look like the walking dead. I hated the 12 hour night shifts because after 6-8 hours production just falls off the cliff.
I believe that Law Enforcement in general does a horrible job when it comes to making sure its officers are mentally and physically prepared to do the job. As long as they have bodies in patrol cars or in dorms for corrections, they could care less how you are feeling. We have all been guilty of coming to work sick because calling out would make a short shift even shorter. We have a long way to go to properly fix the problems addressed by this module.
I agree. The start of even trying to fix anything begins with the hiring process,. The problem is agencies hire for the bodies and not the inspiration for the job. This is one of many reasons why you and I go to work sick, exhausted and dreary.
Stress alone is a human factor and combined with lack of sleep is traumatic. Lack of sleep, stress, lack of exercise, poor diet are all factors, amongst many that lead to poor physical health or lack of physical conditioning. This is important because often the salaries earned by their employees are not enough to sustain their family's lifestyle.
This module is spot on when the lecturer speaks about officer stress and wellness. It has been readily apparent that focused training and skills for officer safety, public safety and education, and wellness are essential! We need to stress to officers and leaders that it is paramount to have EAP and CIT teams to help officers and personnel to deal with critical incidents. It is definitively and markedly important to streamline our training and outreach to all members of society and LEO personnel.
My agency is addressing 2 of the 3 human factors. To combat fatigue of officers we have instituted a 16 hour rule. During normal working conditions (no emergency situations) we are only allowed to work 16 hours in a 24 hour period. The problem is that a number of our officers need to work on their days off just to make ends meet. This results in a serious lack of "down time". We have begun to address the factor of physical conditioning. We recently moved into a new building and a small gym was installed. The department had also began a physical assessment program. Then COVID-19 hit and the gym was closed and all training ceased. Now things have started to open up again and I intend to take advantage of what the department is offering us in the area of physical fitness. Unfortunately the only thing I see that our agency has done against the most deadly of the human factors STRESS is offer an employee assistance plan.
The effects of fatigue and stress is a deadly combination. Far too often officers’ lives are cut short due to the long-term effects of stress, fatigue, PTSD, and a host of other physical and mental health problems. Most of those problems usually lead to officers battling alcoholism, drug addiction (usually prescribed medications), etc.
As a training officer, I always try my best to talk about these issues with our staff to get everyone talking about them openly instead of hiding the issues. I try to make it NORMAL for everyone to have these types of conversations in an effort to keep them from feeling like they need to hide their problems. We all need to do our part in making sure we (and our fellow officers) don’t contribute to the statistics.
Mark, it is wonderful that you take the time to have conversations with the staff. This is a practice I use in my correctional center. I am fortunate to have a smaller facility and I speak to as many officers on duty within their tour of duty days. It allows me to build a trusting relationship and I can observe if someone is fatigued or withdrawn. My team members and I do our best to reach out and assist their needs.
The point of considering fatigue should be taken into account, always when dealing with a breakdown in officer performance. Many times the root cause is the officer's personal situation. Officers that work a lot of details may e fatigued, but so is the officer who has a child who is either young or ill. Too many times those in positions of authority do not realize the factors that younger officers have to deal with that may take away rest and recreation time.
Leaders need to understand how Human Factors such as physical fitness, fatigue, and stress in our employees is vital to ensure the mental health of our employees. Law enforcement is already a stressful career without the added factors of the media and society's distorted views. As leaders, it is our responsibility to evaluate and monitor our officers during increased times of stress.
I agree with you, that we must monitor, but we also have to try to keep undue stress from hitting our officers or deputies. Sometimes, it is our responsibility to stand up and make sure that our employees have some things taken off of them. Things are tough right now, so we need to stepp it up to take care of our people.
I agree. We need to work together to find opportunities to get together, both on and off duty, to help alleviate stress, whether it's at the gym, or finding other opportunities to take care of fatigue and stress. These past couple of years, a partner and I have had the opportunity to go to the gym to gain physical and mental strength. A few of us on our days off like to hit the links and take in a good game of golf to alleviate stress and have a good time together.
I agree. As leaders we need to be more aware of our staff in order to recognize any signs of unusual behavior, mood swings, or other indicators of potential problems.
Stress and fatigue factors in law enforcement are a given. add on top of that you being in a supervisory position and it just compounds. The phone calls at 2 am for simple task that they should know how to address. Little things like that on top of the job description compound. Then you take vacation for a week or so and you believe that stress is gone, it isn't it is just masked. Open the door to the building on your day back and it hits you like a ton of bricks, you can feel it hit your shoulders.
Devin you are spot on with your vacation example. The only time it feels like a vacation is the days prior to actually taking one. The minuet it starts all you can focus on is when you have to return. Our inability to disassociate our self from our job means we take that stress with you where ever you go.
With the rise of social media, the public most certainly can get a skewed sense of our job as the instructor indicated. This has been an especially sensitive area for me personally. It has been challenging to watch as the increase of social media has risen, the immediate reactions that take place have seemingly become overwhelming at times. It has been my observation for the need to request and re-request the need for those deeply involved in this sort of media exchange to please gather the facts before making serious judgments regarding actions by others, particularly those entrusted to execute the law by professional means.
This module was especially meaningful considering the challenging times we are currently facing. When the topic was discussed around Human Factors and Public Education, I thought about how difficult things are for our society right now. I was not surprised to hear that most of public receive all of their information about how law enforcement works from either the news or movies. That is a scary thought. I do feel like developing stronger bonds with our communities could be helpful and I hope that these mostly skewed perceptions will improve.
As a leader, I think it is important that we understand the human factors that can have an effect on our employees performance and mental health. This module was a reminder of the importance of having measures in place to address physical fitness, fatigue, and stress.
I agree as a leader, the human factors have a significant influence on improving safety and can be a result of secondary employment.
I think fatigue is a huge issue regarding police officers nowadays. Police officers are constantly tasked with doing more with less. Also, to make ends meet, police officers are working paid off duty assignments and overtime more and more. Our agency has a sixteen-hour rule as an attempt to minimize officer fatigue.
our agency has the same 16 hour rule and the policy states if an officer calls in sick he must work a full tour of duty before working an extra duty detail. i strongly agree with this polcy becuase i have seen officers work large amouts of extra duty and it had negative impacts on their assigned job duites on shift.
Information on how human factors such as physical condition, fatigue, and stress effect officer’s performance is helpful in understanding when some officers start receiving complaints, or early warnings of diminished performance. Years ago, we were looking at an officer’s diminished performance and decision-making and realized they were working 12 hours shifts and then working a six-hour detail…we soon realized that he was fatigued and had to mandate that he work less details because it was affecting their performance. Coaching, some additional training, time off and reducing the excess number of hours helped the officer have some clarity and improved is performance over the long term.
Additionally, we had to consider physical readiness and fatigue when considering allowing employees to roll over or sell back their vacation time. We had to limit the number of hours they could roll over or sell not just for financial reason but also to force some people to use their time off to recharge the batteries of their mental and physical health.
Very good segment and at the right time with the events in Minneapolis. Agencies must do everything possible to prevent stress, fatigue and physical/mental stress from causing tragic incidents like we have going on today. Human factors may have not played a roll in this case but I'm sure they have before and one life is not worth the budget concerns with lack of training or staffing. This is critical that we catch up to the private sector and demand that rest periods are taken. We can not force health lifestyles in every aspect but Agencies should do everything possible to prevent unnecessary death and injuries to both the community and officers.
Secondary employment will always be a factor in police work. Officers will never make the money that they should, thus making them seek out details or secondary employment. Physical Fitness is a massive area of concern that I see in law enforcement. There are officers on the streets that are in poor physical condition that can either hurt themselves or their partners due to their capabilities. Our department has a gym and basketball court, yet you only see a quarter of the people who utilize these assets.
I get it that we need regulations on the amount of hours worked, but I disagree with a blanket policy of you can't work over 16 hours. Policies pigeon hole us a great deal and things happen in law enforcement that are beyond our control. It is very difficult to stop a murder investigation, because the clock has struck 16 hours. As far as secondary employment, I would think that 95% of police officers couldn't make it without secondary employment. It's easy to manage it when you set a number of hours, for the secondary employment, but what about when something unforeseen happens and you need that employee for something after the secondary employment. Criminals don't give us a schedule and neither does mother nature when weather or other extenuating factors come into play. We manage it as best we can, but sometimes police are going to work more hours than they should, its the way it is and has always been.
Derek, I agree with the comments of clocks do not govern our investigations. Police will sacrifice so much of themselves physically and mentally without any concern of how long it is taking. The only thing I've seen slow down an investigation is hunger! It is all well and good to have this Human Factor conversation and in a perfect would it would be great if we could stop based on our agendas but like you said, police are going to work more than they should and is just the way it is.
I have always known the negative impacts on our job performances from fatigue, stress, and lack of physical fitness. Having them linked together and emphasis placed on leaders to regulate them is much needed in most agencies. I know in my agency we have a 16-hour rule for duty but very often it is overlooked which is a bad practice that will not be a problem until it is a problem. We must regulate these human factors better in order to ensure the safety of our staff and community alike.
Dustin this is where I will probably disagree with a lot of the "experts" on the matter because most of them have never lived on a police officers salary and also don't know that criminals don't keep a schedule for us at to when they will commit crime, That would be nice if they did. So I work an 8-hour shift, go home and at 9 that night catch a homicide. Still working at 5 in the morning, because we caught the suspect at 3 and are now a couple of hours into an interview. Now I've been up for coming up on 24 hours and I'm at my 16 hours. Do I say sorry Mr. Bad Guy, I'm at my 16 hours and now need 8 hours rest, so can you hang out here until I get back and we finish this interview?
I agree that we must not only come up with a policy per day but also per workweek. working 12 or 16 hours a day with no day off is not beneficial to allowing you to relieve stress from work. Some will say they can handle it, but when something happens, the Agency will pay the price along with the officer.
Cops depend on details to supplement their income. In several cases, officers coming off shifts will go straight to details, regardless of how tired they are. Working extra duty doesn’t exempt officers from having to deal with stressful situations. Although cops will find details that are “easy money”, the human factor still exists in that fatigue will lead to mistakes. These mistakes can often lead to dangerous outcomes.
There is not an officer in the law enforcement profession who has not had to supplement their income with extra duty or a second job at some point in their careers, but we must find a way to manage our time effectively so that we are still able to keep these human factors in check. More often than not these officers are more likely to get into a higher stress situation while employed on this secondary job than while on the primary.
Dustin, I agree with the points you speak of.
Good point. While many officers supplement their incomes with details, overtime, and/or secondary employment, it should be done in moderation. The money is nice but when we have officer's working so much they are falling asleep while driving home or so irritable that they have trouble using self-control when handling a complaint...then at some point we become responsible as an agency to step in and do something to reduce the risk to themselves and others.
This is also a sensitive area for many of us. Like you, I am not sure how other police officers would "make it financially" if not for overtime and/or secondary employment. The fact is, police do not make a lot of money for much of the risk and liability placed upon them. Factor in a family where the mother stays at home to raise the children, and you have a volatile situation from a fiscal standpoint. Not sure about others but I did not seek out having children just to pay others to raise them differently than how I would have them raised. Raising the next generation is just too important to me to leave it to strangers that are doing it for money. Again, these factors and more combine for especially tight financial consequences.
I agree with you, Adam. This especially applies to the newer officer who most are newly married with kids. They tend to work more details due to t being on the low end of the department's pay scale.
This lecture has reminded me taking care of myself and being fit for duty, is vital to myself and the community I protect and serve. Being fit for duty can prepare to deal with stressful situations that may arise.
I agree that physical fitness is a massive part of our job duties. I see so many officers who are overweight and not fit for duty. It's always a concern if that person gets into an altercation with a subject.
As a young officer, I used to be an officer that could work all day and all night and I would be "ok." After reading this lecture, I guess I dodged some bullets by not getting into an accident or making the wrong decision. I also never understood as an officer, why limits were placed on extra jobs and regular duty shifts.
This lecture was a great reminder, of liability issues, and the reminder that we are all human, and can make mistakes. Having boundaries in place will limit this.
Scott, I was thinking the same thing as I was going through this module. Sleep was not a priority for me at the beginning of my career. I would run from a twelve hour shift to an 8 hour detail without a second thought. Luckily, those days are few and far between now.
Fatigue is probably the largest factor when considering officer safety. Officers work an enormous amount of extra hours on top of the shifts that they have to cover. There are many things that can happen when a person does not get the rest that is needed.
Fatigue has to be one of the biggest problems in our profession. Working night shift is bad enough on its own but then you stay up to work a side job and have to be back that night your head is not in the game at all. Many departments limit the number of hours you can work off duty per week. This can help but is still not a perfect solution.
Shift work is a large portion of causing fatigue. Officers sleep cycles are never regular and officers in turn do not get the sleep that is needed.
The most important thing for a department to do is to focus on officer safety. Part of this should include focusing on an officer's mental and physical health. Unfortunately, know of departments that have had to modify or discontinue their ongoing physical fitness programs due to civil liabilities where employees have sued their department because they were injured during physical fitness assessments. Even with time limits put on outside work, I still find deputies are working too many hours and are often fatigued.
This modules message about health and fitness along with stress management cannot be ignored. Speaking from personal experience when i began my enforcement career i, as the one time Chief told me, i was morbidly obese. No one to blame but myself. After several years working corrections and saw the dangers i had to deal with, along with a desire to join our Patrol Division. I made it a point to lose over 60 lbs on my own. Sure the extra weight helped when holding an inmate or suspect down, but a fight for my life scenario i know i wasn't prepared for. Managing stress is a different monster of its own, when the very job you suit up for naturally increases stress the minute you put your duty belt on. Departments should have an avenue for their officers to admit to stress induced problems without the stigma follows admitting to having problems.
Fatigue is real and associate that with stress can have large damaging affects on a person. As leaders we need to encourage stress relievers like physical conditioning and implementing policies to help prevent some of the things we can. By taking the Human Factors this allows us to recognize stress, fatigue, and lack of physical conditioning our officers as well as ourselves might be experiencing.
In the learning area 3, module 1, the instructor really implemented a lot of important parts as far as fatigue and stress. The instructor really gave a very good insight of the consequences of Human Factors. Learning so much more of the IACP Resolution should be known everywhere and at every agency. Fatigue is real and the secondary employment as well while putting in long hours.
I agree we as officers get so focus on the money that we put our health on the side.
Exactly! It got so bad in my agency that we now have what we refer to as the "16 hour rule". Meaning, officers are not allowed to work longer that 16 hours straight without being off for a minimum of 8 hours. This has forced changes in how we log payroll and how we are able to work details. Everything is electronic.
I believe in being not only physically fit to perform the job of a law enforcement officer, but being mentally prepared as well. I have often spoken to the people under my command about both and have encouraged them to the point where a gym, at where I am a coach, has offered them a greatly reduced rate in order to join. The issue is you can only lead a horse to water, but when Taco Bell and soda are free, but salads and water are not, you get what you get. As a newer officers, I used to say, “if it’s free, it’s for me,” and my health paid the price…I’m better now – lol!
That leads to the fatigue issue. The reason some officers are eating like crap and not sleeping is because they usually have to seek secondary or extra duty employment to make ends meet. It is sad that this profession is so often dumped on then not paid well enough that officers have to resort to finding a side-hustle to support their families. I definitely did not get into law enforcement to get rich, but it would be nice if officers were paid as much as the entertainers and athletes they are sworn to protect.
Off my soap box
The importance of using all media to humanize officers and educate the public is extremely important. This must be done prior to any conflict as trust must be built before it is needed. After our last officer involved shooting some members of the community were stating why didn't the officer just shoot the gun out of the suspects hands rather than kill him. Our agency has done a fairly well job of keeping a positive relationship with the community and this issue did not boil over. This humanizing must be constant and repetitive as the negative impact of unrealistic movies and a biased media is non stop.
I believe our PIO does an excellent job in humanizing the badge on social media. Not only does he put out crime related issues, but more frequently it's about how the Sheriff's Office is helping the community. When people see us on the road they'll stop and say you're so and so, which helps in opening up conversation with the public.
Our PIO has also stepped our social media presence with documenting all of the good we do in the community. Social media is definitely the way to get this information out to the public as since this is where most of the public gets it's information from now. Not to mention we can't expect the traditional media to put out those types of police stories.
Personal health and wellness are subjects that are frequently overlooked by employers, even outside of law enforcement. Only recently have wellness initiatives been put in place that are joint ventures between the department and human resources. They provide screenings and incentives for healthy choices.
Our department has teamed up with our health care providers on a wellness program and every year we get reevaluated. i've seen improvements in my overall health since the programs began. Also helps that my Apple Watch makes me feel guilty when i don"t close my rings or reach my 10k steps daily.
This module is packed with important information for leaders to keep in the forefront of their minds. One very important point of emphasis I believe is the recognition of incidents that are either intentional or unintentional. I was immediately reminded of a situation I was part of investigating where an officer searched a suspect and found contraband but missed a weapon. Several other officers were involved in a chain of events that resulted in the weapon not being found until the suspect was in the detention center. No one was injured but the incident infuriated the leadership. After a full investigation a preliminary suggestion for "punishment" was handed down. The original officer who missed the weapon and felt horrible about it was scheduled for a 2 week suspension and his supervisor a week's suspension. In the course of investigation 4 other deputies were identified as having the responsibility to search the subject. One admitted to an improper incomplete search and the other three admitted to not searching him at all. I objected strongly to the suggested discipline feeling all had missed the weapon and none were more egregious than the other. After considering this module I feel the original officer actually should have had less punishment as he tried where the others did not. The original disciplinary suggestion was scrapped and the entire agency was given additional retraining on searches and not becoming complacent.
It is far to easy to look into an accident/mistake and immediately start trying to blame someone rather than try to understand how it happened and is there something to be done to make sure it doesn't happen again. The first thing I always ask is was this a mistake of the heart or the mind?
My department does not currently have a physical fitness assessment . However. we do have a policy in place for the amount of hours a deputy can work consecutively in a 24 hour period to keep from being fatigued. I think it would be wise if our agency implemented a physical fitness program. I feel this would greatly reduce stress and deputies would have stronger body's and minds.
I couldn't agree more on agencies implementing a physical fitness policy, It is very easily overlooked on staying in shape, especially with such busy schedules. Young officers for my department in the past have worked way to many hours in a 24 hour period to where the department now has a policy of maximum hours allowed to work and a minimum hours of time off before returning back.
Physical fitness, stress, and fatigue are all issues we have witnessed in law enforcement. My agency tries to address the fitness issue by offering additional pay based on your score of a voluntary fitness assessment. We hold a mandatory fitness assessment for recertification month, and a score of 80% or better in each event receives a ribbon to be worn on your uniform. Even paying officers for keeping themselves in shape, does not work for the majority of officers.
I agree. Out of 350 plus employees we average only 50 even participating in the "Fit Force" program for extra money. I have discussed with the Sheriff the ineffectiveness of the annual mandatory fitness assessments at re-certs and he is committed to the program. This month we should be opening the fitness centers at to office locations. Policy does provide provisions for removing employees from enforcement positions if certain benchmarks are not met on the fitness assessment, but the Sheriff works with employees who were already in enforcement prior to the implementation of the standards. We are very open to ideas on how to positively address this are of employ
"Accidently hit submit"
We are very open to ideas on how to positively address this area of employee development.
One thing I try to encourage among my team is the need for physical conditioning and wellness. The job we do as officers is stressful and having a way to cope with that stress in extremely important. One message that I try to send to my people on a regular basis is that physical health directly correlates to mental health. I have recommended a physical fitness incentive within my organization, but like in the video, the answer is always no due to budget restrictions. I am also a firm believer that physical fitness and fatigue go hand in hand. The more physically fit you are the less likely you are to experience fatigue.
Secondary employment as mentioned in the video lecture needs to be monitored closely to prevent hazardous effects to all aspects of safety. I think that if an agency allows it’s member to participate in secondary employment that it is imperative that a policy regulates several factors which include the amount of hours that can be worked after a shift or before they return back to service.
I agree with secondary employment. We have some details that pay more than the officer's hourly rate, and when there is no overtime, some officers try to work as many of these details as possible. Adding that time up with shift hours eventually catches up to the officer, so it must be monitored to eliminate the fatigue.
My department does have a policy in place for the amount of hours a deputy can work consecutively in a 24 hour period to keep from being fatigued. This is a must for any agency . If not some deputies would work around the clock.
I agree, I think that if an agency will approve secondary employment it should be closely monitored. It doesn't make sense to have a limit on the hours that an employee can work on primary job if it is unknow how many hours they are working on secondary job. I can see where fatigue can easily be a concern.
At our agency, we have a 16 hour rule which means that we can only work 16 hours in a 24 hour day. If an officer works a standard 12 hour shift then he/she can only work 4 hours on a detail either before or after a shift.
Agreed, the current environment that encompasses our pay scale as base "deputies" on up to executive personnel is not proportionate to the level of work we perform. Officers usually have to work "details" or secondary jobs to make ends meet. We enter this job knowing high "pay" and salary is not our primary motivation, service is. Hopefully, in the future, we are able to compensate officers so that they are not consumed with the need to work extra "jobs" to make ends meet. It will decrease fatigue and stress for all personnel.
Physical fitness plays a strong role in my agency. We provide two different gyms on our grounds along with allowing the deputies to utilize their work vehicles to go to any gym. It plays such an important role in the physical and mental well-being of an officer.
I think that an agency gym is a great idea. My agency currently allows officers to use their department vehicles to go the gym. One thing we also tried was a program designed around cross-fit, where the agency pays for the membership to a cross-fit gym. If my agency were to offer its own gym. I think it would pay dividends in the end and most officers would use the gym on a regular basis.
At our agency uniform patrol still works a 12 hour shift and rotation. While I don’t work it anymore I have often said a 10 hour shift would be much better. The night shift usually suffers the most from this often staying over for court or some kind of training. In our office every deputy assigned a weapon must take a physical fitness test twice a year. We had adopted the Cooper Institute standard but have since modified it into something more suitable. We also offer remedial physical fitness training (not mandatory) but that requires intestinal fortitude and great motivation. I’m a believer in physical exercise and that it helps your mental state. A steady diet aids in that too.
I am a proponent of physical fitness. It is the very reason I survived working many years of night shift work. The agency I work for implemented a physical fitness assessment program back in the early 2000’s. Every enforcement officer in the department is required to participate in bi-annual assessments adopted from “Cooper Standards.” We do not receive any type of supplemental pay for fitness, but our employer does pay for a gym membership at the facility of your choice.
Human factors with the greatest influence is very interesting. it discussed physical condition, fatigue, and stress. I agree with the physical condition and how it is important to mental physical health. i also found how fatigue and stress play apart in work performance .
All three play important roles when we don't take care of it.
Physical and mental fitness is very important in law enforcement. Do to family and financial demands sometimes people get overwhelmed and overlook their health until it is too late. This can lead to stress, memory loss, and a lower immune system. The agency I work for has taken the steps to help increase physical fitness by opening a gym in our training center. This is a step in the right direction.
With the varying factors that we are surrounded by, it is easy to overlook our health. My agency recognizes these concerns, where we have incorporated policies and practices to help our organizational members achieve a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle.
Stress and fatigue can absolutely effect performance. I have seen it.
It is beyond important for all of us in law enforcement to have an outlet for stress and stick to a routine for sleep and rest.
I agree that stress and Fatigue effect and officers performance. if not properly addressed it can lead to other heath issues as well.
correct as we get older the harder this becomes.
Human factors is how the brain and body function together. Physical conditioning in this job is very important and should be practiced on a daily basis. I could use a daily routine. Stress can lead to a lot of different things, such as irritability, memory loss, impaired immune system and even heart disease. Also, all agencies should adopt a safety culture.
This is so true, I could also use a routine. unfortunately for some people it is hard to juggle work, details and home time.
The best way to reduce stress is to get physical. A decent diet and regular exercise certainly reduces stress. Doing your best to have a sensible sleep plan reduces fatigue as well. What it really takes in intestinal fortitude to do it though.
The topics discussed in this module are things that I have been preaching for years. I am a huge proponent of physical fitness and wellness. Our agency has an onsite gym outfitted with equipment for everyone from the physically fit 22-year-old officer to the "seasoned" clerical worker. The main problem I see is motivation. It all has to start with the person. I have seen our agency offer incentive programs and whatnot, but it still has to start with the individual. Furthermore, standards set for new hires, and the academy need to be extended throughout the time the person is with the agency. Not just end after they're hired.
Not that I am the one to talk, but I agree wholeheartedly with the physical fitness standard continuing after hiring and the Academy. The culture has to change at some point and that is a built-in time to exact the change for the amazing long-term benefits.
David, I agree. A physical fitness standard should be extended throughout a career. For some people the incentives are not enough motivation, but if they have to meet a standard to keep their job they will have to. Along with extended a physical fitness standard, I would like to see my agency install gyms at all of our substations and give officers time at the beginning or end of a shift to use the gym. If we set the standards, we have to give an opportunity for them to be met.
I agree with the areas in need of more development given in this module. I know many people who lack situational awareness and it is scary. Developing effective communications in high-stake situations can make or break someone cooperating with you. I like the saying - positive thoughts lead to positive action.
Our agency has recently implemented a physical standard for new hires and for current employees entering our academy. It is a course they have to run of simulated obstacles they have on the street. We also have an on- site gym for all employees and spouses can use free of charge. While we are making some efforts, it is still up to the individual to do their part as well. Health care costs rise every year because of unhealthy people. Shift work is also discussed here too, that is something our agency needs to look at as well. Our employees have asked to change it and because some don’t want it changed, then everyone suffers. They need to do what is best for the majority.
We tried changing our shifts and the majority did not like it. We've tried 8 hour shifts and straight days/nights for a month.
The human factors of law enforcement officers are vital to our survival, especially physical fitness. I know that my physical fitness is not nearly what it used to be nor likely ever to be again. However, Ms. Harrington used an excellent example that resonated with me. She said if an officer knew in six months that he would be in a fight for his life, he would start training now for that fight. This is the mindset that all law enforcement officers and agencies should keep and conform too. I’d like to see an incentive program launched within our agency to promote a healthier lifestyle and weight loss.
I don’t think an incentive program would work for our agency. We have tried that in the past. Furthermore, we have the Rally thing that people can get $20 a month just for checking into the gym. I wonder how many people use it. What I think would work are group classes, such as group circuit training. I also think allowing a few hours a week during working hours to exercise would help. We do in-service training for defensive tactics, first aid, etc…why not continuing training for physical wellness?
Clint, I agree. I recently started a 30 minute routine since the COVID19 epidemic. I hope to stick with it to healthy.
I agree with you, Clint. I think we all need to practice more physical fitness. I'm not nearly where I was years ago, but I am trying to work on being a better me. Also, I think it is great that our agency provides us with a gym and workout area to help us get into better shape.
This module hit home with me as being able to relate to fatigue in law enforcement. On days I work a second job I've found my tired and lacking the focus I should have. It is a good reminder to keep my work out regiment active and having other means of stress relief. Also, finding stress relief through reading, meditation and spiritual focus.
Mental and physical fatigue can have many negative consequences for officers. My department now has policies in place to regulate the amount of house an officer can work. This forces officers to have much needed down time.
It is unfortunate that our agency had to input restrictions on officers working hours due to a few officers making poor decisions. I recognize though without such restrictions it is human nature to push the envelope putting officers and the community they serve at risk. The stress levels of poor decision making intensify as we grow tired and weary.
I totally understand what you are implementing, but I've seen some agency allow their workers to work so many hours not caring how it impacts them mentally and physically. I've seen where that agency didn't care as long as the job was completed. I can say I was a victim of that society from a past agency. I can honestly say it impacts everything the instructor described.
This is a module I can relate to. At my agency, we are lucky to have an hour long workout period integrated into our shift. Officer's first hour of their day is spent in the gym. We also give them the option to run or bicycle outside, or go to the city pool to swim. We also have mandatory physical assessments every year which consists of a physical agility test and blood panel. This information is documented and tracked over the officer's time here at the agency. I know of at least two officers that had concerning heart issues discovered during the physical assessment that most likely saved their lives.
I agree with you, Brian. I know that our career choice has many affect on our health. Our agency doesn’t have a mandatory physical assessment, and we should. I know several highly ranked officers who could never successfully pass a physical evaluation, but by implementing a program, it could save lives.
We have implemented a physical assessment course for new hires and anyone entering the academy. We provide a free gym for all employees. We can't force people to use it but we offer it. We have looked into making current employees do the course as well.....thats still in the works.....
This is some very information in this module. I,m fortunate to work for an agency that encourages us to train everyday, and allows us to hit the gym while on duty. Our officers work 9 hour shifts and like everyone else we work a lot of overtime, so physical fitness is encouraged. The stress is not as bad here as it is in some places and if i see my officers looking fatigued I send them home to rest but the majority of the time we practice making sure they do not get fatigued.
I appreciate the information presented in this module. Fatigue and stress unfortunately are some factors that dominate my agency. Our officers work 4/10s but then follow up with a lot of overtime, training, court and participate in community and special events. Due to staffing issues, sometimes our officers end up working 16 hours. It is a constant checking in with them and at times sending them home. Unfortunately, none of our officers live close. Most have a minimum of a 30 to 45-minute drive. Fortunately, we have been able to provide officers with a “quiet room” where they can get some rest prior to driving home or if they have down time between their shift and court time. In addition, we have contracted mental health specialists to help officers deal with stress resulting from many of the critical incidents they respond to.
An increase of stress that I have seen in officers is due to social media. It seems everyone is taking video and posting it on twitter. Some members of the public post horrible comments against the officer regardless of what the officer is doing. Some comments appear to be very personal and hateful and hard for them to ignore. Especially for the younger newer officers.
My agency after Katrina required every patrol officer to work on their days of for 4 months straight. The fatigue and lesson learn from that situation will not be repeated by my agency again, at least I hope not. My agency still drafts officers on their days for special events but it's nowhere to the level that it was for Katrina.
I cant imagine the morale issue your department was facing during that time. I'm sure it had an impact on turnover and quality of work.
The demands of this job can take a toll on your physical and mental health. As police, we all had to work special events and long hours. I remember as a young detective in the 90"s working 30 hours straight for a homicide. In those days, if there were leads you didn't go home until the suspect was in custody or all leads had been exhausted. Today my agency does a better job of managing the hours that an employee can work.
The concepts covered in this lesson regarding the human factors and their effect on officer resiliency are key to ensuring that officers make it through a 20+ year career with their health and wellness intact. Educating officers on the effect of these human factors and the need to take countermeasures to reduce their impact is important. The three human factors identified as having the greatest level of influence are: physical conditioning, the effects of stress, and the effects of fatigue. The demanding physicality of this profession requires officers to be physically fit to increase performance and survivability. Fatigue is common among officers due to the nature of our work. Long hours and the physical effects of stress on our bodies make us vulnerable to fatigue. Stress is perhaps one of the biggest concerns for officer health and wellness. If officers don't have strategies and resources in place to assist in managing stress and the effects it has on our body and our lives, it can manifest in chronic illness, family issues, and our own mental health.
I agree with you Nancy education is the best tool when preventing officer's from shortening their career.
I agree educating staff is important so they are able to recognize signs on themselves or others.
Drauzin, I like you spent 28 years of my career working 12 hour shifts in the patrol division. A lot of the hours I spent walking certain neighborhoods especially at night. I wanted to be the person who caught a criminal in the act of breaking into a home or robbing a bank. Later in life, my body started telling me things that I did not know how to read. Now looking back I see the signs I should have seen back then
I agree with you, Mike. You don't always see the signs of fatigue and stress that is caused by long working hours.
I spent 25 years of my law enforcement career working 12-hour rotating shifts in the patrol division. The constant switching back and forth from days to nights is a police officer's worst nightmare. The shift work is appealing to the younger personnel, but after several years it begins to take a toll on your body. Agencies should focus more attention on the effects that shift work has on employees. Shift work should consist of either permanent day or night shifts or on scheduled increments such as a month of days and then a month of nights. This would allow for the officer's body and internal clock to adjust. The health effects resulting from the shift work is not conducive to providing the mental and physical conditions that are required of officers.
Drauzin I spent 25 years working straight night shifts. Knowing the struggle it was to live the “vampire” life; I could only imagine how difficult it was swapping back and forth. Absolutely, no way I would have made it that long swapping from days to nights. Your last sentence is spot on.
Kinler I agree with you. After 20 years of service, I've worked shift work for many years and it can have an overwhelming effect on the body. However, we often don't see the impacts on our bodies until it's too late. Many law enforcement officers don't have the option to enjoy or even make it to see retirement.
This module hit on something that I have long been an advocate for. Fitness in our line of work is necessary. Not only does it give you a positive feeling about yourself, it can also aid you in your job. Being fit or in better shape than you were the day before can help with stress, fatigue and even your personal life. I have always wanted a program at work that would reward physical fitness with something to encourage others to get in shape. Sometimes a little outside incentive is all one needs to begin a lifestyle of good physical condition.
The human factors of mental and physical well being are paramount in this line of work. The instructor for this course is correct, if any of us knew we would be in a fight for our life in 6 months. We would spend every minute from now till then preparing for it. We don't take care of ourselves while we are in this career and as a consequence many don't make it much past retirement.
Well said. The number of people that have retired from here and are no longer with us is ridiculous. I can only imagine that mental and especially physical well being contributed to their passing.
This module is exactly what is necessary for law enforcement agencies to focus on. I definitively believe it is lacking in my department overall. There is minimal discussion and policy has loosely been integrated, but there is so much overtime available that it has become the priority and purpose for some officers. I truly don't know how they are functioning as there is no downtime between patrol, court and overtime. It seems when this topic is brought up, as long as the officer is within the required hours of overtime daily, there is no further push to examine fatigue, health and wellness, officer safety components, etc. A brief discussion to compare officer stats from those who work and don't work overtime may illuminate the diminished service provided to the public.
Jarod, I agree with your post especially on the overtime issue. Staffing issues plaque our agency. We just can’t seem hire fast enough. Once hired, the ones that make it take about a year to be solo officers in the field. There is a lot of overtime and it is hard to fill. Officers come in early and at times hold over to cover those billets. Some have court and other obligations they have to meet after their assigned shifts, and it makes it for long hours, days and work weeks. We have a fairly young department so fortunately there is hardly ever a shortage of volunteers. I just worry about them and their ability to sustain this tempo of work and the effects this has in the service to the community.
When reviewing this module, it made me think of the situation we just went through in our agency. Like everyone else, within the past 5 months the patrol unit moved to a 12-hour Pitman work schedule to match our jail operations. 4 teams consisting of A, B, C, and D shift working around the clock with 6-6 hours. There is no rotation built in for patrol from nights to days, vice-versa, on patrol like the jail does every 4 months. We also added a “power shift” which is 2pm-2am to cover shift changeover calls for dayshift. However, there is no relief for nights when we get those calls at 0500 and by the time dayshift comes out, we are knee deep and it would not be beneficial to pass this on. This schedule was fine when I worked in the jail under climate-controlled building conditions. But on patrol, stress and fatigue were the main concerns in moving to this shift given the constant changing environment (either physical or mental). As the night shift Lieutenant, I constantly check on the deputies for any signs of stress or fatigue they may be experiencing. The morale for these shifts is still positive since they get every other weekend off (3 day) but these human factors still have us concerned.
The law enforcement profession has done itself and our employees a big disservice by going to the 3/12 work schedule. When you factor in travel time to and from work, possible overtime, the workday can easily become 15-18 hours. We know that the human body requires 8 hours of sleep daily, but this happening for most of our officers working the 3/12. The fatigue factor for the majority of patrol officers (at least in S. Cal) is really not safe nor healthy for our officers or dispatchers. Unfortunately, we have focused on the present "want" from our employees without really accepting the long-term consequences of work the 3/12 work schedule. I know the majority of chiefs and command staff would prefer to use the 4/10 schedule because it's truly safer and healthier for our employees, Recognizing this is a meet and confer issue with our bargaining units, I do not have much hope that this change in the near future for any agency.
Our agency had to move from the normal 8 hour shifts due to morale and manning. We looked at the option of 3/12, 4/10 and 12-hour pitman schedule (which our jail operations are on). We chose to due the same as the jail operations since our new deputies coming out of the jail and to patrol were accustomed to this schedule. We have modified this schedule by adding a “power shift” to accommodate shift change over for days and evening shift call volume. Given the 12-hour shift our concern is the same of the factors of stress and fatigue. We are only 5 months into this new schedule and are monitoring it closely.
A few years a go we tried to switch from 12 to 8 hour shift models, we ended up losing a little over 10% of our officers before they switched back to 12, I think 10 hour shifts might be a good middle ground but the last change went so poorly I doubt any other model will ever be given a try.
Completely agree Brian. It appears that we have laid down in submission to the desires of the officers and the unions, rather than focusing on the optimal service to the public. This is a constant battle within our Department and we continuously bow to what is best for the officer and their life, commute, traffic, secondary employment, vacations, etc. Bad situation we have adopted.
I disagree with you Jarod on the comment you made about what is best for the officer and their life is a bad situation that your department bowed down. How is "what is best for the officer" a bad thing? I am also curious what position you hold within your department to make you have this opinion.
I agree with you Brian. There is lots of research that has been done on this topic which confirms what you stated. In the long run those who work these shifts will pay the price. I have been working an 8-hour day shift job for the last 5 years and I still suffer from insomnia as a result of the 25 years of shift work. Your body doesn't recover from the effects.
Totally agree Brian. It's just not worth it.
This lesson discussed the three human factors that impact officer safety and wellness. The first is physical conditioning which refers to physical and mental fitness, the second is mental fatigue and the third is the effects of stress. Physical conditioning is something each individual officer must take responsibility for. The agency must encourage physical fitness and leaders should model it. Mental fitness is also something officers should take accountability for, the first step of which is not being afraid to discuss when outside issues or job-related incidents are effecting your performance. Each individual agency must also make the officer feel safe bringing this information forward as typically there is a stigma associated with the impact caused by job-related incidents and mental health.
Fatigue caused by being overworked can be self-imposed or caused by staffing issues and the need for overtime. The effects of stress must be managed and can impact the officer's overall health and wellbeing. We cannot change the stress caused by the job, but we can take preventative measures to minimize the impact stress has on our bodies and in our lives.
Lastly, agencies must take responsibility for being their own media source, pushing information out to the public to show the humanity of its officers. They should be as effective at using social media as media sources. They can push out positive information and debrief critical incidents, reminding the public of the human factors involved in the incidents.
Frank, I am going to focus on your last comment about media. I agree with you that agencies have a responsibility to keep the public/media informed. The use of social media and the internet has made if very simple, effective, and affordable to communicate with our stakeholders. Brian
Great post! Fatigue seems to be something that some in my agency are having struggles with. The younger officers, newer generations, especially seem to be struggling. I am not sure if this has to do with their home life and not sleeping, or if work is causing the fatigue. Many of them are video gamers and play for hours on their off days instead of sleeping; then they come to work and are visibly exhausted. I have spoken with a few of them as of late and encouraged them to manage their fatigue to the extent they can by balancing their time on their off days as well as work days.
This is a great post, it really touched on everything that needed to be said. I feel fatigue is probably the most unaddressed issue officers deal with, which causes the most stress.
Last year, our Department made a move to 10-hour shifts across the board for our patrol officers. Our command's concern about officer safety and health/wellness played a significant role in this decision. Unfortunately, our dispatch unit continues on a 3/12 schedule. This is largely due to the fact that our dispatch unit is currently short-staffed, and because for many years, City and Department resources were directed elsewhere. Fortunately, in our current years' budget, one new full-time dispatcher position was allocated, and once we are able to fill our current vacancies, various options for 10-hour shifts will begin to make themselves available. However, even with those options coming into play, some of our dispatch personnel continue to be largely limited to graveyard shifts, which over time has been shown to have a significant impact on health and wellness. We clearly still have some work to do.
I remember at the beginning of my career you had day and night 12 hour shifts. You rotated every two weeks. It was impossible to get an acclimated schedule down as just when you got used to one, you switched. Several years later my agency switched to fixed 12 hour shifts for patrol. It seems to be much more conducive to employee health.
I agree a fixed shift is much better. After spending nearly 8 years on night shift, I never acclimated to the hours and sleep schedule. I was exhausted all the time.
It should be the agencies overall goal for officer safety, to include the officers mental and physical state prior to their interaction with the public. Education on the effects of stress and fatigue should be mandatory for all new officers prior to allowing them to work secondary jobs. If this is done it may prevent officers from working to the point of exhaustion.
I agree with Monte that the agency should educate its employees on mental and physical health. They should be made aware of the side effects of stress and fatigue prior to working secondary jobs. The agency should also regulate and write into policy the maximum number of hours that can be worked before and after a regular duty shift.
Departments in my area (Southern California) have come a long way in the past 20 years in addressing the effects of calls for service on an officer's mental health. This has also had a significant impact on stress and fatigue. However, one are where I feel departments continue to fall short is the amount of sleep officers are able to get based on their work schedule. With court appearances (especially when working night shifts), staffing shortages requiring officers to hold over on their shifts, calls for service and arrests requiring reports to be completed, and 12.5+ hour routine work schedules, there is a distinct lack of awareness and/or intentional ignoring of the impact this has on an officer's ability to function, especially in high stress situations. I feel that more effort needs to be made to ensure officers at least have the opportunity to sleep so they can be focused, productive and safe under pressure during their shifts.
I agree with you Kyle. The agencies leaders should have more awareness on what they are doing to their employees by not allowing them the time to "unwind" and rest. Unfortunately most supervisors are uncaring unless it is them who is forced to work to exhaustion.
I agree if an employee is rested and their minds have time to wind the level of work with be at a great scale then if their are tired
I agree this is a matter leaders should pay very close attention to and immediately address when they see the potential for a problem.
Low pay, long hours, and extra duties all play a role in the fatigue and stress officers endure. And the role that social media plays in today's society portrays law enforcement in a negative way which has made recruitment of new officers even harder. It seems like a never-ending cycle.
We recently changed our patrol shifts from a mixed 4/10 and 3/12 schedule to 10-hour shifts across the board. It was a heavy lift with 18 months of assessment, evaluation, and discussions with our associations before the change was made. Employee wellness was one of the biggest factors that contributed to the final decision. As could be expected, not everyone was happy with the change. We took that unhappiness to heart and are once again making some changes to our schedule, although the 10-hour shift across the board will remain, largely because of our concern for officer health and wellness.
I agree that the demands of the job can sometimes cause an overwhelming amount of fatigue. While I supervise the weekend shifts, we are often needing overtime positions which can typically go unfilled. This requires an officer from the previous shift to hold over from anywhere between 3 and 5 hours beyond their normal 10-hour shift. This can take a toll on them both mentally and physically.
Kyle, I agree that police agencies in Southern California have made great progress for ensuring officer health and wellness, with a focus on mental health. Our agency moved away from the 3/12 schedule to reduce fatigue as one of the reasons. Staffing shortages cause officers to have to work long shifts and even cover shifts on what would have been their day off. For these reasons, it is important for officers to maintain a good physical fitness regiment, as well as practices that assist in mitigating stress such as meditation and self-development.
Hello Kyle. You made a great point. In my opinion, Law enforcement leaders (command and executive staff) must be involved in the process of creating Officer wellness programs. Unfortunately, not may agencies have peer support groups or have wellness programs to assist officers after a critical incident or when dealing with cumulative stress. You mentioned about sleep deprivation being a contributing factor for stress. I agree 100% with you. Shift work, court appearances and mandated overtime are killing our officers, making it very hard for them to get quality sleep. I truly believe as dealers we can assist our people by providing them with support and resources for mental and physical wellness.
The topic of sleep has been highly discussed in our agency lately. Unfortunately a lot of our administration have forgot what it's like to work night shift, all weekends, holidays, get called in for overtime, court, etc. The night shift staff seem to be put in the situation most for not getting many hours of sleep and a lot of people that don't have to suffer from it respond with "at least your young" A lot of time the night shift staff are less experienced and are younger, but that will eventually wear on them. That causes faster burnout and more stress. People forget how important sleep is and it can have significant impacts on your overall health.
I always heard that sleep was important, but I did not truly realize how important until 2016. During 2016 my area experienced a flood that destroyed the majority of our community. Myself and others were forced to remain awake and work for approximately 30 hours before our first sleep period. Experiencing the effects of extreme sleep deprivation opened my eyes (no pun) to the importance of sleep.