Researchers studying how longer shifts affect LPD officers

Posted: Jun 09, 2016 9:39 PM EDT

Earlier this year, Lubbock Police Department's patrol division lengthened its shift hours to address manpower issues. It switched from eight-hour to 12-hour shifts.

"By going to the 12-hour shift, we can spread out more officers throughout the city and more officers on duty at one time," LPD Lt. Ray Mendoza said.

"If I was on duty, I would love it," City Councilman and former LPD officer Floyd Price said. 

Council voted Thursday to allow two doctoral investigators to research how these longer hours affect officer performance through February 2019. Texas Tech University professor Megan Thoen and Lubbock Christian University professor Andy Young said their research is not to tell LPD what's right or wrong, it is to protect the well-being of those on the force.

"They're working long shifts, they're having a long change at work, anything like that can affect a person's home life, it can affect their job performance so it seems wise to try and see how a change affects a person at their job," Young said. "It seems always wise when there's a systemic change in a police officer's life or anybody's life, you want to take a look at how that will affect that person and affect the department as a whole. We're going to try and do this for a number of years to try and measure the impact as people adjust to a new schedule."

"They're the ones that actually have to perform the duties," Price said. "Studies are excellent to sort of get the catch on things where you would likely be one way or the other. You do the study and you get the input from the people who the study is going to affect and take the data."

How they will study the officers, they cannot exactly say. However, they can tell us the work will be under strict scrutiny.

"We have to be careful about answering that question too, because we don't want to affect the study before we do it," Young said. "There's a review board at Tech that makes sure this is study is done right, everybody involved is protected and no undo coercion is done."

Young is no stranger to working with Lubbock police. he has been with the department since 2000. He is the negotiator for the SWAT team, coordinator for the victim services crisis team and the coordinator for the critical incident stress management team. He even wrote a book about his experiences with LPD.

"Nobody really knows and can appreciate what goes on at 3 a.m. behind the yellow tape so I wanted to write some of those stories down so people can have a better understanding of what this work is like," Young said.

Young said his co-investigator, Thoen, is also well-versed with police work and its culture.

"Law enforcement is an important work and to assist officers who are trying to do their work has been gratifying to me," Young said.

Posted on September 12, 2016 .