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Old 08-24-2011, 11:31   #1
Triple7
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Shift Work

Guys I've been thinking more and more about becoming a LEO. One of my main concerns is the hours (I know if seems minor) But with a wife and two kids, playing sports and church and everything....I'm wondering will the hours be a huge issue for me? Obviously I'd like to make all of my son's games and practices but I know that that won't happen.

My real question is what kinda hours are y'all working? How often does it change, do you get to pick with seniority? Things like that......also any advice is welcome.
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:34   #2
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you will miss a whole lot of family activities.

your shift (days/nights), your days off (rotating or fixed), will not always allow time for family events. working nights, weekends, and holidays will interfer as well.

it takes a special woman to be married to a cop, and kids wont understand what sacrifices you make when they are little.

one of the keys to deal with this is, dont love something that cant love you back. the job will keep on going with or without you.
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:40   #3
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There are a ton of guys that make it work.
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Old 08-24-2011, 11:44   #4
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There are a ton of guys that make it work.
i didnt mean to say it cant work.

what i meant was jr.'s baseball game, sunday morning or christmas eve mass, and all that will not be reschdeuled because daddy has to work.
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:32   #5
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i didnt mean to say it cant work.

what i meant was jr.'s baseball game, sunday morning or christmas eve mass, and all that will not be reschdeuled because daddy has to work.
Yeah I realize this. And some of the depts that I've been looking at are 12 hour shifts, Mon, tues, friday Sunday .....next week is weds Thurs or something like that. Doesn't seem terrible....unless the shifts are 7-7am
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:40   #6
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Yeah I realize this. And some of the depts that I've been looking at are 12 hour shifts, Mon, tues, friday Sunday .....next week is weds Thurs or something like that. Doesn't seem terrible....unless the shifts are 7-7am
If the department only has two shifts most of the time its 6-6 or 7-7. In a larger department there might be more shifts available.

You will miss things, especially being low man on the totem pole.
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:42   #7
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You'll get as many different answers about shifts as there are agencies...

Some Departments work steady shifts where you will be working the same shift (seniority dependent) unless you change it. Other Departments may do a team type setup where you and your team have rotating hours and you all rotate to different shifts. Some work five 8hr shifts, others four 10hr shifts and still others work 12hr shifts with a 4th day off every other week.

Plus, during your field training you'll probably bounce around between shifts and differnet FTO's. If you are lucky you'll end up on graves and you will be able to catch your sons games but you'll lose out on sleep for that day. Shift work is a royal pain in the rear when it comes to family life. You are definatly going to miss out on a lot of stuff untill you get some years on and can hold day shift with weekends off.
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:45   #8
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Shift work is a huge part of this job. Every place has its own ideas about how best to do it. I take a lot of my OT as comp time so I spend as much time away from here as possible. Once the wife and I have kids I will pick a shift schedule that will give me Christmas off but I have the senoirty to do that. Halloween the kids are probably going to have to do it without me most years. I also put in for time off well in advance. Some departments it is harder to get time off.

If I could retire and be a normal person in 5 years when I have 20 in I would do it. Either that or be a DA investigator which is pretty much semi retirement.
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Old 08-24-2011, 12:53   #9
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I liked the Panama Schedule when I was on it. Liked it better than the straight 8s Mon-Fri that I am on now.

With the right wife, you can make it work, provided you do not have sleep issues. You may want to think about the whole sleep thing before you start, because it can become an issue. Continued use of sleep meds is not an answer if you want to succeed. There are lots of books on sleep issues, including the concept of sleep hygiene.
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Old 08-24-2011, 13:02   #10
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i didnt mean to say it cant work.

what i meant was jr.'s baseball game, sunday morning or christmas eve mass, and all that will not be reschdeuled because daddy has to work.
I was actually addressing the OP. There are a lot of guys who, with the help of their family, are able to make shift work work for them.

If you are really interested in LE and don't necessarily know about true shift work, you might consider looking at some sort of specialized law enforcement. For example, the Department of Transportation in my state (commercial vehicle enforcement) has their officers work almost entirely days and evenings...very rarely an overnight, and even then mostly for special projects.
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Old 08-24-2011, 13:10   #11
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The universal truth about being a LEO when it comes to the hours is that you're going to miss a considerable amount of holidays, ball games, church, etc.

The actual shift you'll work, the scheduling, etc will all vary by department, rank and assignment. My previous department was insane. We changed shifts 4 times over the course of 5 days, rotating from nights to days. Then there was nearly always OT and extra details. Days off changed often.

A wise man once told me to put God first, family second and everything else woudl fall into place. With that department I had no time for family and little room for God. I knew quickly that it wasn't the place for me (due to the time and other issues) and left in relatively short order.

Next month I'll start testing with a department that works 12 hour shifts with a 2 on, 3 off; 3 on, 2 off schedule. They rotate shifts (day to night/ night to day) every 4 months. A much more sane schedule, IMO.

Oh and some more universal truth no one seemed to tell me about. You will go short on sleep. There's only 24 hours in a day and between your regular shift, OT, possible extra details and family something has got to be cut and its usually sleep. 4 to 6 hours seemed to be average for me. I can run on six, but its not much fun. 4 is do able for a period, but not safe.
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Old 08-24-2011, 13:27   #12
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Originally Posted by Agent6-3/8 View Post
The universal truth about being a LEO when it comes to the hours is that you're going to miss a considerable amount of holidays, ball games, church, etc.

The actual shift you'll work, the scheduling, etc will all vary by department, rank and assignment. My previous department was insane. We changed shifts 4 times over the course of 5 days, rotating from nights to days. Then there was nearly always OT and extra details. Days off changed often.

A wise man once told me to put God first, family second and everything else woudl fall into place. With that department I had no time for family and little room for God. I knew quickly that it wasn't the place for me (due to the time and other issues) and left in relatively short order.

Next month I'll start testing with a department that works 12 hour shifts with a 2 on, 3 off; 3 on, 2 off schedule. They rotate shifts (day to night/ night to day) every 4 months. A much more sane schedule, IMO.

Oh and some more universal truth no one seemed to tell me about. You will go short on sleep. There's only 24 hours in a day and between your regular shift, OT, possible extra details and family something has got to be cut and its usually sleep. 4 to 6 hours seemed to be average for me. I can run on six, but its not much fun. 4 is do able for a period, but not safe.
this is almost a standard with small departments. many cops like this scedule considering the other choices......

of course, with a larger department you have the flexibilty to take a vacation day, or comp day, or switch days off with another cop so you can attend a special family function otherwise missed out on.......but small departments lack flexibilty so it really matters on where you work.
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Old 08-24-2011, 13:39   #13
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Growing up my dad worked shift work (not a cop), and as much overtime as he could. Never took a day off and he did both 8 and 12 hr shift work. As his son I never felt that he missed too much, and I never felt that he didn't care. It took a lot of work on his time, especially after my mom died. He always played ball with me when he got home, and he took me fishing on his days off and to church on Sunday. My sister feels the same way. You can make it work and work well, but you have to be a great dad, worker, and person in general. My dad is a great father, a great employee, and a great man.
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Old 08-24-2011, 13:45   #14
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Growing up my dad worked shift work (not a cop), and as much overtime as he could. Never took a day off and he did both 8 and 12 hr shift work. As his son I never felt that he missed too much, and I never felt that he didn't care. It took a lot of work on his time, especially after my mom died. He always played ball with me when he got home, and he took me fishing on his days off and to church on Sunday. My sister feels the same way. You can make it work and work well, but you have to be a great dad, worker, and person in general. My dad is a great father, a great employee, and a great man.
its just good to hear folks say that now-a-days.....
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Old 08-24-2011, 13:51   #15
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its just good to hear folks say that now-a-days.....
He has done so many things for me in my life, I will never be able to repay him.
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Old 08-24-2011, 14:01   #16
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He has done so many things for me in my life, I will never be able to repay him.
if your kids can say the same things about you, then you have repayed your dad.
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Old 08-24-2011, 14:16   #17
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if your kids can say the same things about you, then you have repayed your dad.
Well so far my dog loves me
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Old 08-24-2011, 15:38   #18
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I just worked 70 hours of OT last month. I'm already scheduled for another 40 this month, even though I'm going to be gone 10 days on vacation.

I've had court screw up family get functions. Missed birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. I work around it, and my wife is awesome. Between her and my understanding children, we make it work. We have birthday parties a day or two late, or open Christmas presents at 0300 when Daddy gets home from work, because he has to double back at noon.

Things get better with seniority. Because we're a smaller department, we can only hold a certain shift for a year at a time, then we have to bid to something else. Four 10 hour shifts per week. I take it all as OT cash, so I can give the wife/kids some nicer things, and build my wife's dream house. In 5 years, I'll turn it all into comp time, so we can disappear whenever we need an extra day away. If you do it, stick to the plan. Keep enough time on the books that you're able to get away if you need it, or the wife decides you need a couple of nights off. Don't kill yourself off, your department was around a long time before you were, and will be around a long time after you're gone. Things have a way of working themselves out, so just have a good time, and do what is right for you, and your family within the confines of what is allowed by your agency.
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Old 08-24-2011, 16:47   #19
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We used to rotate 8hr shifts. I've been on 12-hour nights for the last two years. 6p-6a.

we make it work (we have 3 kids, 20, 8, and 4).


wife says i'm grumpy on my days off when i didn't get enough sleep. i do miss a lot of the kids functions, it always seem to end up on the days I am working and not off. I have enough seniority to pick days, but if I do, then it's going to cost more in day care and then I'll have to deal with all the brass that only work days.

wife and kids get used to it. i guess.

like someone else said, the dog still likes me.

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Old 08-24-2011, 19:16   #20
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How old are you kids?

Find a department that fits you. I wanted to work 4 x 10 hour shifts, so that's what I did. Some people love 12 hour shifts, I hate them.

Shift work isn't that bad, and I think graveyards can work well with a family. With a little seniority you could bid Friday nights off on graveyards... which means you can attend family stuff on Saturdays.. like baseball games... without the seniority of having Saturday's off. Graveyards also means you get to see your family for breakfast and dinner.

The above posts about sleep are dead on. Judges don't care what shift you work, and it's rough going to court at 10:30 am after working all night. The overtime can be addictive.

Around here, people without kids will do trade days with those that have kids, so parents can have Christmas off.
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