The Shift Length Experiment: What We Know about 8-, 10-, and 12-Hour Shifts in Policing

Publication Date

November 2011


Karen L. Amendola, David Weisburd, Edwin E. Hamilton, Greg J. Jones, and Meghan G. Slipka


This report details the experimental study of 8-, 10-, and 12-hour shifts conducted in the Arlington (TX) and Detroit (MI) Police Departments. The findings suggest that officers on 10-hour schedules worked the least amount of overtime, got significantly more sleep (about 170 additional hours per year), and the agencies paid out the least amount of overtime for those on 10-hour shifts.  Compressed schedules of 12 hours were not associated with differences in our outcomes, other than officers’ reports of lowered alertness on the job and increased sleepiness.  Agencies should use caution in implementing such schedules.

Research Design

Randomized controlled trial (RCT)

Research Methods

Literature review, Surveys, Field-based experiment, Computer simulations, Health monitoring & biometrics, Lab-based experiment

Recommended Citation

Amendola, K. L., Weisburd, D., Hamilton, E. E., Jones, G., & Slipka, M. (2011). The shift length experiment: What we know about 8-, 10-, and 12-hour shifts in policing. Washington, D.C.: National Policing Institute.