Impact of long work hours on police officers and the communities they serve

Am J Ind Med. 2006 Nov;49(11):972-80. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20333.


Background: Police officers in the United States often are overly fatigued because of long and erratic work hours, shift work, and insufficient sleep. These factors likely contribute to elevated levels of morbidity and mortality, psychological disorders, and family dysfunction observed among police. Fatigue-related impairments to officer performance and decision making can generate unexpected social and economic costs.

Methods: Information was gathered from the literature and analysis of government data as well as meetings with sleep researchers, police executives, and union officials in order to understand the causes and consequences of police long work hours.

Results and conclusions: Long work hours and shift work threaten police officer health, safety, and performance. This situation is aggravated by understaffing associated with demographic shifts and new threats to homeland security. Ongoing research suggests that the police may be a useful model occupational group for basic and applied research on sleep, fatigue, and human performance.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Data Collection
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Personnel Staffing and Scheduling
  • Police / statistics & numerical data*
  • Sleep Deprivation / epidemiology
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Workload*