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Metro Police Is Changing Its Shift Structure. Here's Why


Louisville Metro Police will cut back on the number of hours patrol officers work in a shift.

At the moment, patrol officers work 10-hour shifts four days a week. On Sept. 27, the department will move to an eight-hour shift structure, according to a memo Chief Steve Conrad recently sent to personnel.

So, why the change?

It stems from an extensive $68,000 staffing study conducted earlier this year that outlined six recommendations for the department, including a shift to either an eight-hour or 12-hour shift system. (Read the complete study here.)

The study, by Alexander Weiss Consulting, found the department’s current scheduling method is unnecessarily complex and isn’t aligned with the workload.

An eight-hour shift, the study also found, would allow up to 20 percent more officers to be considered "on duty" during a shift.

"Which is good for the community and good for our officers," Conrad said in the memo.

The current shift structure creates an overlap in officers on duty, which means more officers are on duty than necessary at times, the study found. At other times, fewer officers are on duty than would be with an eight-hour shift.

Conrad said in the memo the department "worked closely" with the local police union to examine any impact the shift change would have on patrol officers. Sgt. Dave Mutchler, president of the River City Fraternal Order of Police, did not return multiple requests for comment on the changes to officers' shifts.

In the memo, Conrad said state law makes a 12-hour shift financially unfeasible.

Still, some officers have said the change to eight-hour shifts -- which means five- and six-day work weeks, rather than the current four -- "are the worst option for anyone with children" and will lead to less time away from the job, according to a recent WDRB report.

The police department declined to make any officials available for comment on the shift change.

Jacob Ryan is an award-winning investigative reporter who joined LPM in 2014. Email Jacob at jryan@lpm.org.