Federal Way police consider 12-hour shifts for officers

The Federal Way Police Department is considering implementing 12-hour shifts for patrol officers.

The shift change is being discussed by a committee of roughly 19 individuals within the police department. It was suggested during this year’s police supervisors retreat and is a way for the department to identify ways to operate more efficiently, said Cmdr. Stan McCall.

“The reason we’re looking at a 12-hour schedule is really to find out what is out there and what resource allocation methods are in place in other cities and what might work well, or better, in Federal Way,” he said.

Patrol schedules

Federal Way currently employs about 60 patrol officers. Patrol officers work four 10-hour days before taking three days off. Officers are organized into six squads that cover three shifts — day, swing and night. There is overlap between the shifts.

A 12-hour shift would retain the current level of services, McCall said. The main difference would be the department’s move from three shifts (day, swing and night) to two shifts (day and night).

Eliminating a shift would leave officers available to potentially work a specialty unit, such as a family crimes unit, McCall said. The addition of any speciality unit is not a guaranteed occurrence if the department changes its operations model, but it is a possibility.

“A 12-hour schedule allows you additional leeway that an 8- or 10-hour schedule doesn’t,” McCall said.

The 12-hour shift is not uncommon. The Renton Police Department has run the schedule since 1995, said Terri Vickers, Renton police spokeswoman. Officers work three consecutive days, then take three days off. Prior to the change, Renton’s patrol officers worked eight eight and one-half hour days before taking four days off, Vickers said. The current model makes it much easier to schedule the department’s 63 patrol officers, she said.

“It makes for a very efficient way to run the department and our officers are very happy running it,” Vickers said.

Resisting change

In Federal Way, where the schedule is less grueling than Renton’s pre-1995 schedule, the proposed change is being resisted by some officers.

“There are a lot of people that don’t like 12-hour schedules,” McCall said. “The 10-hour shift right now is working well and most people like it.”

Members of the Federal Way Police Officers Guild are weighing in on the shift change discussion, guild president John Clary said. Some members are in favor of longer shifts, some are open to the idea and some are opposed to them, Clary said via email.

The shift change is not due to budgetary constrains, McCall said. The declaration of an “emergency” is considered a reason to change officers’ shifts without negotiating with the guild, but McCall said the emergency classification lends itself to a natural disaster, not a budget emergency.

“It would always be something we would negotiate with our labor groups,” he said. “We wouldn’t just implement it.”


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