In a previous post I wrote about the 18:1 ratio and indicated that in a future post I would outline why it takes 18 officers to staff one patrol unit.
First, let me start by providing an overview of the uniform patrol shift schedule used by the Winnipeg Police Service. It is generally referred to as the 4/10 shift schedule.
Police officers assigned to the six general patrol divisions are split into 2 platoons, essentially 2 police departments, A-Platoon and B-Platoon commonly referred to as A-Side and B-Side. When A-Side is working, B-Side is off and vice versa.
Each platoon is subdivided into 3 sub-platoons to correspond to the 3 shifts: day shift, evening shift and midnight shift. Platoons are identified as A1, A2 and A3 and the same on B-Side.
A person working an 8 hour day, 40 hour week ends up working 2080 (52 x 40) hours a year with every Saturday and Sunday off. This works out to 260 working days, and 104 days of weekly leave.
Police officers working the 4/10 also work 2080 hours per year. With 10 hour shifts that means they work 208 days and have 157 days off.
Many people refer to this shift schedule as the four on/four off shift but that is not entirely accurate. In order to have a true 4 on/4 off system, the shifts would need to be around 11.5 hours in length. Because the shifts are only 10 hours, police officers quite often work 5 and sometimes 6 ten-hour shifts and then get 4 days off.
The 4/10 shift schedule also has provision for overlap days where all members of both platoons are scheduled to work. These overlap days are intended to be used for training, catching up on report writing and other administrative functions. They are also used as an opportunity for officers to take additional time off.
Lastly, because the day has 24 hours and 3 ten-hour shifts work out to 30 hours, there is an opportunity to overlap the shifts and create a 6 hour period where the number of patrol units on the road is doubled. This overlap normally occurs between nine at night and three in the morning.
Using the 4/10 shift schedule as a back drop the next post will explain why it takes 18 officers to staff one patrol unit.
I have noticed recently that although this post was written some time ago it is still getting a steady stream of hits on a daily basis. If you have any questions about the 4/10 shift schedule in terms of pros and cons or just questions in general please feel free to contact me via email.
For a follow-up on this post click here
Is the 4/10 staffing approach the dominant model in Canadian cities? Is there a better model?
Most police departments in Canada use some form of compressed work week. I am not aware of any major department that still uses an 8 hour schedule. The schedules include variations such as 11 and 12 hour shifts. Shift schedules are generally designed to meet the needs of the community ie daily periods of overlap, overlap days etc. In Winnipeg the 4/10 shift schedule has become a ‘sacred cow’ for the union.
Why did it ever change from 7on/2off/8on/4off? It wasn’t perfect but it seemed to work just fine.
I think it had to do with the ability to overlap shifts and increase the number of officers on the street during specific times of the day. With 3 ten hour shifts in a 24 hour day you get 6 hours of overlap time. The union was also quite keen on the idea as under the 7/2 8/4 schedule you got 6 days off over a 21 day period whereas on the 4/10 schedule you get 12 days off over a 28 day period.