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Public Safety

Despite increased demand for police services, shrinking budgets have made it difficult for police departments to meet their staffing needs. As a result, police agencies throughout the U.S. have adopted variations on the traditional five day, eight hour work schedule. According to Shiftwork Solutions, smaller departments often set minimum staffing levels but find this does not effectively address their real, and variable, staffing needs. Instead, busy periods can be understaffed while other periods are overstaffed. While many police departments use 10-hour and 12-hour shift lengths, most jobs can be performed equally well on short and long shift patterns as long as the total number of hours remains the same.


More local governments are also consolidating public safety communications with adjacent communities to cut down on costs. Despite the challenges, consolidation can produce long-term cost efficiencies and result in a “better trained and more focused work force, increasing the level of public safety,” according to the Communications Security, Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC). When consolidation makes sense, intensive planning must be undertaken to ensure that service and coordination improvements are realized for all affected first responder agencies.


The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies’ (CALEA) Public Safety Communications Accreditation Program provides a communications center, or the communications unit of a public safety agency, with a process to systemically review and internally assess its operations and procedures. Being CALEA accredited can limit a communications center’s liability and risk exposure because it demonstrates that internationally recognized standards for public safety communications have been met, as verified by a team of independent outside CALEA-trained assessors.



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