Fatigue related to shift work affects the interactions that police officers have with the public, according to findings presented at the SLEEP 2016 annual meeting.
These interactions can, in turn, influence the public's trust in police, the researchers reported.
They conducted a controlled laboratory study of 80 police patrol officers to study various tactical social interaction metrics. Researchers used computerized training simulators to evaluate police offers in a fatigued condition, which consisted of five consecutive 10:40 hour work shifts, and a rested condition, which consisted of 72 hours off.
Results showed that officers who were fatigued were less likely be successful in the tactical social interaction scenarios (P = .024) and less likely to introduce themselves to civilians (P = 0.39) than officers who were rested.
"These results lay the foundation for addressing the impact of shift-work related fatigue on how officers interact with members of the public in day-to-day encounters that can either increase or erode trust in police," the researchers concluded. "The negative impact of fatigue on [tactical social interaction] has significant implications in the current climate of police-citizen unrest, where perceptions of police legitimacy are low."
"Our results indicate that officers who work biologically normal day shifts perform much better than those on other shifts," Bryan Vila, PhD, professor of criminal justice and criminology at Washington State University, Spokane, said in a press release. "This suggests that better fatigue management might improve officers' ability to deftly manage encounters with the public in ways that win cooperation and reduce the need for use of force." – by Chelsea Frajerman Pardes
James L, et al. Tired cops: The impact of fatigue on tactical social interaction in policing. Presented at: SLEEP Annual Meeting 2016; June 11-15; Denver.
Disclosures: The study was supported by the Department of Defense (DOD) Office of Naval Research (ONR).