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Westminster police patrols add ‘power shifts,’ new schedule designed to cover peak call periods

The Westminster Police Department’s Patrol Bureau has switched to a new patrol schedule, with the aim of putting more officers on duty when they have the most calls for service.

March 3 marked the start of a six-month trial period. Officers are now scheduled for 12-hour shifts that alternate week to week, allowing for bigger chunks of time off between work days and putting more officers on duty at peak times.

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A morning shift runs 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., a “power shift" runs 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and the midnight shift runs 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Month to month, officers on the earliest shift and the power shift switch, while the midnight shift personnel stay the same.

The idea is to overlap the mid-day shift to increase manpower during busier times for the department. Due to the switch, this puts two more officers on duty from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and three more from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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Westminster Police Lt. Steve Launchi rushes to a call to assist other officers in Westminster March 6, 2020. The Westminster Police Department rolled out a new shift schedule last week that aims to better deploy officers on the streets.
Westminster Police Lt. Steve Launchi rushes to a call to assist other officers in Westminster March 6, 2020. The Westminster Police Department rolled out a new shift schedule last week that aims to better deploy officers on the streets. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

Chief Thomas Ledwell said in an email that the increased supervision “should help us to better manage more serious or involved calls for service. We hope to be able to conduct more proactive assignments also, such as bicycle patrols.”

Sometimes known as the Pitman Schedule, or the 2-3-2 schedule, the days worked alternate from week to week. The first week is two days on-duty, three days off, then two days on. The next is two days off, three days on and two more off.

“The officers will have to work a longer shift, but will have more days off, and this rotation provides everyone with two three-day weekends each month,” Ledwell said.

Previously, officers worked six days on then three days off for 8.5-hour shifts per day. The schedule was designed to put an even number of personnel around the clock.

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Lt. Stephen Blackwell, who was promoted to patrol commander supervisor as part of the change, said the new schedule is popular with officers. From his own previous experience with a similar schedule in the military, he was looking forward to it.

Westminster Police Lt. Steve Launchi and Officer Brian Smith examine suspected drugs found during a probable cause search of a car in Westminster March 6, 2020. The Westminster Police Department rolled out a new shift schedule last week that aims to better deploy officers on the streets.
Westminster Police Lt. Steve Launchi and Officer Brian Smith examine suspected drugs found during a probable cause search of a car in Westminster March 6, 2020. The Westminster Police Department rolled out a new shift schedule last week that aims to better deploy officers on the streets. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)

He hopes it ill be “beneficial to the officers as well as to the community.”

Before making the change, the Westminster Police Department analyzed their workload and found that the most calls for service came between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.

“After conducting research on patrol staffing for police departments with Patrol Bureaus of similar size, we believe that we will be able to have an increase in police officer presence during the time frame when our call volume is greatest by adjusting our schedule,” Ledwell said via email.

The department consulted a company that specializes in police scheduling. The company provided several options for Westminster to choose from.

“This patrol schedule is very common and is being implemented by many police departments. The 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. power shift is customized for our peak call volume hours,” Ledwell said via email.

The department worked with city staff, particularly in the departments of finance and human resources, to implement the change.

Ledwell said police department members also had the chance to give input. Over the next few months, “I’m sure we’ll find out the nuances as we go along,” he said.

Westminster Police Lt. Steve Launchi checks a car for damage after it was found leaking coolant and its driver was found disoriented in Westminster March 6, 2020. The Westminster Police Department rolled out a new shift schedule last week that aims to better deploy officers on the streets.
Westminster Police Lt. Steve Launchi checks a car for damage after it was found leaking coolant and its driver was found disoriented in Westminster March 6, 2020. The Westminster Police Department rolled out a new shift schedule last week that aims to better deploy officers on the streets. (Dylan Slagle / Carroll County Times)
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