Every day, law enforcement officers are out keeping the community safe and maintaining the peace, and the number of understaffed police departments nationwide is increasing, creating more stress on officers. In January 2017, the Economist published Police departments struggle to recruit enough officers. The article was an eye-opener, explaining the change in trends regarding law enforcement. As of mid-December, the Los Angeles Police Department was short nearly 100 officers. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, a succession of police officers retiring left 350 job vacancies.
With so few officers to go around, police officers are working longer hours than ever. Studies show that working 40 hours or more each week is bad for both mental and physical health. Our society would greatly benefit from giving its dedicated civil servants the time off they deserve. In the long run, officers will have lower stress, perform better, and free up time for self-reflection.
Sleep-deprived officers have higher health risks
A 2011 Harvard study uncovered that a lack of sleep was one of the biggest problems among police officers in the US. Some participants in the study admitted to falling asleep during meetings or even behind the wheel. Police officers who lack sleep are at a higher risk of diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disease, not to mention it is one of the leading causes of job burnout in the industry. By working less and sleeping more, officers will help themselves and the community.
More time away from the office keeps the public safer
A stressed out and overworked police officer does more harm than good. Fatigue impairs an officer’s mental and physical ability. It can also limit their alertness needed to keep them on their toes and look out for the community. A vacation, or even a nice stay-cation, gives an officer time to get needed R&R to stay alert on the job. They have a chance to hit the reset button and come back to office days later energized and refreshed.
Law enforcement officers need time to see how valuable they are
Some officers feel underappreciated despite what they do for the community. High levels of stress and long hours cause some officers to be emotional and submit to self-destructive behaviors. Giving those who serve the community more time off allows them a chance to reflect on their work. Officers who work fewer hours can leave the job feeling needed, empowered, and appreciated.
More rest means fewer administrative errors
The nightly news reports about incidents police officers deal with in their day-to-day. What you don’t hear about is the additional time an officer works in order to complete a detailed report about those events. Overworked police officers say that the mountains of paperwork they deal with is the most stressful part of their job. According to NPR, sleep-deprived police officers had a 43 percent higher chance of making a serious administrative error. The paperwork needs to get done no matter what, but making an officer work extra hours after their shift to complete it does more harm than good.
Investing in technology increases the productivity of a police department
A department’s productivity can vastly increase by investing in technologies and services that free up an officer’s time in the office. Major Henry La Mar, CEO of La Mar Investigations, explains how daunting one investigative file can be. In his interview, La Mar explains had they not hired extra administrative support, his agents would rarely get the chance to leave the office. La Mar talks about the great success he has had hiring a remote staff dedicated for police transcription. He advocates trying out a remote staff in order to cut down on overtime and increase the amount of solid error-free documentation.
Benefits of hiring a remote staff
Remote staffs are becoming increasingly popular. In An Eight-Step Guide To Finding, Selecting And Managing Remote Staff, Forbes.com contributor Ben Walker explains that with open communication and the right tools, a business can get things done just as well as being in the same office. With the help of a remote staff, police departments can get their officers back to a 40-hour workweek schedule. Reducing the amount of overtime an officer works keeps them healthy and reignites their passion for the job so that they can continue to keep the community safe.
– Benjamin K. Walker, Founder & CEO, Transcription Outsourcing, LLC
(Photo courtesy Eric Jackson)