Fatigue and short-term unplanned absences among police officers
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Fatigue and short-term unplanned absences among police officers

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      Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to assess whether shift work, sleep loss and fatigue are related to short-term unplanned absences in policing. Design/methodology/approach – N = 367 police officers from the Buffalo Police Department were studied. Day-by-day work and sick leave data were obtained from the payroll. Absenteeism was defined as taking a single sick day on a regularly scheduled workday. Biomathematical models of fatigue (BMMF) predicted officers’ sleep–wake behaviors and on-duty fatigue and sleepiness. Prior sleep, fatigue and sleepiness were tested as predictors of absenteeism during the next shift. Findings – A total of 513,666 shifts and 4,868 cases of absenteeism were studied. The odds of absenteeism increased as on-duty fatigue and sleepiness increased and prior sleep decreased. This was particularly evident for swing shift officers and night shift officers who were predicted by BMMF to obtain less sleep and have greater fatigue and sleepiness than day shift officers. The odds of absenteeism were higher for female officers than male officers; this finding was not due to a differential response to sleep loss, fatigue or sleepiness. Practical implications – Absenteeism may represent a self-management strategy for fatigue or compensatory behavior to reduced sleep opportunity. Long and irregular work hours that reduce sleep opportunity may be administratively controllable culprits of absenteeism. Originality/value – Police fatigue has consequences for police officers, departments and communities. BMMF provide a potential tool for predicting and mitigating police fatigue. BMMF were used to investigate the effects of sleep and fatigue on absenteeism.
    • Source:
      Policing. 43(3):483-494
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