Police officers begin 12-hour work shifts Goal is to cut overtime and fund retirement plan

March 12, 1998|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

Howard County police officers began a new work schedule yesterday that puts officers on the beat for 12 straight hours, sometimes for three days in a row.

Police said the schedule will decrease overtime expenses, saving money that will help finance a retirement package approved in January.

The schedule, police officials say, will also boost police presence along U.S. 40 in Ellicott City and in certain areas of Columbia, and give officers more weekends off.

"This will help coverage," said Sgt. Morris Carroll, the department spokesman. "We're putting officers in areas where we're receiving a lot of calls for service."

Daytime patrol officers will work 12-hour shifts -- either 6: 30 a.m. to 6: 30 p.m. or 8: 30 a.m. to 8: 30 p.m. -- on a staggered schedule that alternates working two days and taking two off with working three days and taking three off.

Officers on night patrol shifts -- either 6: 30 p.m. to 6: 30 a.m. or 8: 30 p.m. to 8: 30 a.m. -- will work three nights on and three nights off.

The night shift officers requested that schedule, Carroll said, because it would allow them more days off.

The old schedule had officers working 9 1/2 -hour days, with four days on and three off.

"Some of the officers are worried about hitting rush hour traffic," because the new shifts begin and end around that time, Carroll said. "Most are taking a wait-and-see attitude."

Howard County isn't the only department that has gone to this schedule.

About 1,200 out of 9,500 officers in Los Angeles used a similar shift system, but a new police chief there eliminated it several months ago, despite the schedule's popularity among officers, said Officer Mark Partain, an LAPD spokesman.

Pub Date: 3/12/98

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