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Crime Analysis Center
2406 E.
Skipping Rock Way
Oro Valley, Arizona 85737
Phone: (520) 219 8144
Fax: (520) 219 8144

What’s New

In depth articles covering many areas of law enforcement will be presented here. The current article discusses the complexity involved in determining police patrol schedules.

Scheduling Patrol Officers

Anyone who has ever had to schedule days off for employees knows how difficult the task can become as more employees are added or additional constraints imposed. This is particularly true in a police agency where patrol officers constitute the largest and most critical element of the organization. In fact, the number of possible schedule combinations is given by the following formula:

(No. Days to be Worked x No. Hours per Day)án
n is the number of officers to be scheduled.

For example, the number of possible schedule combinations for a small department with 20 patrol officers that must provide service 24 hours per day seven days a week is calculated as
(24 hours x 7 days) to the 20th power or a number far too large to consider. Finding the best schedule or even one close to the best without technical assistance would be impossible.

In addition, several other factors must also be considered in scheduling patrol officers. These include:

- What time of day should each shift start?
- What kinds of shifts are utilized (e.g., 8-5, 10-4, etc.)?
- Are rotating or overlapping shifts required?
- Is there a call priority system in place?
- The number of units required for each priority level.
- The number of patrol car areas (beats) on each shift.
- Which beats need two-officer car coverage?
- How are officer shortages handled?
- Street mileage and square mileage per reporting area.
- Amount of time allotted for non-call related work.
- Average time spent per call for each priority level.
- Average time spent per call for each unit re
- Number of calls per hour, day and priority level.
- Balancing workload among the beats and units.

These and many more factors should be addressed when developing patrol deployment schedules. Fortunately, with the aid of the computer, mathematical techniques now exist to greatly simplify this task. Analysis Central Systems, and Corona Solutions, are two companies offering such assistance.