Associate Magazine - FBINAA - Q4 - 2022
Continued from "Making Ends Meet: An Officer's Perspective", on page 23
the end of their shift, then it’s entirely possible to add another two hours to that shift. Say an officer must accompany someone who goes to the hospital for several hours and then goes to the docket. They then must write a report before being allowed to go home. There may be no way to know how much that lack of rest might disrupt their capability of providing services the following day. Dealing with the pandemic has forced many of us to identify the amount of sleep we get and the resulting stress that lack of sleep puts on the body. Stress and energy levels have a direct effect on how an officer interacts with the public. Working 12-hour patrol shifts is hard in and of itself. Once you factor in rotating shifts and overtime, it becomes evident that getting the proper amount of sleep is critical. For young officers, it is easy to disregard the importance of proper rest to prevent overwork and accept off-duty jobs instead. Especially in an officer’s early twenties, it might not feel like a full eight hours of sleep is necessary. Working a quick security shift and making extra money might seem like a no-brainer. However, the lack of foresight at that moment easily leads to issues when they are on the clock, no matter what age. Though not the of ficer’s intent, overworking may lead to them letting their guard down at a critical moment. For the sake of the officer and the agency, there should be clear policies in place setting the maxi mum hours an officer can work off-duty jobs in any given week, as well as administrative tools in place to prevent it from happening. Safeguarding officers from overworking helps to ensure they have a long career working in the future. Law enforcement officers can and should foster a long and enjoyable retirement. In order to accomplish this, officers and agencies must implement best practices for off-duty jobs. Centrally administered off-duty programs and incorporating poli cies used by accredited agencies are two primary ways agencies protect their officers’ futures. Most importantly, chiefs and other agency leaders should consider their officers’ perspectives and the risks they need protection from to do their job.
instances of this not being the case. This results in officers essen tially donating their time to a for-profit business. Before implementing solutions like centrally administered off-duty programs that pay officers directly, I’ve witnessed situ ations where the city must pay officers for hours worked when the private business fails to do so. That means the city is forced to execute accounts payable and collections duties, which, like the agency, does not have the time or resources to do. Luckily the officers were able to receive their compensation in this scenario but forcing the city to financially float payments isn’t usually a permanent solution. More populous metropolitan governments might be able to do this from time to time, but many small towns simply would not have the option. There is only so much funding in a budget, and when an agency starts going over that budget agency leaders will be questioned. Ultimately the city had to ban that company from requesting off-duty officers because they failed to pay for services rendered. This is just one of many instances of delinquent payment that occur in both small and large private companies. The officers may not have felt the financial strain in this scenario, but there are countless officers currently dealing with delinquent payments. I’ve witnessed national businesses owe thousands to officers for their hours worked off-duty. Without a centrally administered program in place to manage the financial float, agencies and their governments must draw the line to ensure their officers are protected financially from delinquent payments. Agencies without an existing policy should reach out to an other agency that is accredited to help create an internal policy, as well as partner with a third-party centrally administered provider to help simplify the payment process. RESILIENCY AND PREVENTING FATIGUE Working overtime on off-duty assignments is common in the law enforcement profession, but officers must know at which point additional hours do more harm than good. If an officer is feeling physically worn down, that officer and their community are not as safe. Officer fatigue can manifest itself in mental fatigue, physical fatigue, and even attitude. As I have looked back over a 30-year career, I can identify times that I overexerted myself, as most of us can. The vast majority of officers may not overwork themselves on a routine basis, but one can never know when of ficer fatigue may lead to a career-ending mistake. Overworking isn’t always avoidable. The majority of patrol of ficers in law enforcement today work 10 or 12-hour shifts. That is the standard across most agencies. When an officer makes an arrest at
About the Author: Eric Charles , FBINA Session #280 is Off Duty Management's Business Development Manager. In Eric’s 30-year career in law enforcement, he has held ranks from Officer to Deputy Chief at Roanoke, Virginia PD. Eric’s expertise includes patrol duties, tactical opera tions, budget management, and officer training. A gradu ate of the FBI National Academy Session #280, Eric’s training includes the University of Virginia’s National Criminal Justice Command College (Session #8), the Uni versity of Richmond’s Professional Executive Leadership (Session #32), FBI LEEDA Command Leadership Institute, and Drug Unit Commander School.
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