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Aberdeen Police Department officers, who normally work eight-hour shifts, have been working 12-hour shifts since Sunday to make up for officers being out for either training or long-term medical leaves.
Aberdeen Police Department officers, who normally work eight-hour shifts, have been working 12-hour shifts since Sunday to make up for officers being out for either training or long-term medical leaves. (TED HENDRICKS | AEGIS STAFF / Baltimore Sun)

Aberdeen Police Department officers, who normally work eight-hour shifts, have been working 12-hour shifts since Sunday to make up for officers being out for either training or long-term medical leaves.

It is the third time in two years the department has had to adjust officers' schedules for a long period of time, which is usually related to extended training periods, or to officers being out because of illness, injury or personal time, according to Deputy Chief Kirk Bane.

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Officers also go on a 12-hour shift schedule during emergencies, such as for hurricanes, or when Winter Storm Jonas struck Harford County in January, Bane noted.

"They're here longer, but they have more days off, as well," Bane said Wednesday.

The number of violent crimes reported in Harford County during 2015 decreased slightly compared to the previous year, according to the FBI's annual report on nationwide crime released on Monday. The county's murder rate is less than half the national average and less than a quarter of Maryland statewide murder rate.

He said it is unknown when this round of 12-hour shifts will end, but he hopes to return to the eight-hour schedule by the beginning of 2017.

The department is approved for 42 officers. Six officers are out and five of them could be out-long term, Bane said.

He stressed that the same number of people will be on each 12-hour shift, compared to the eight-hour schedule.

Officers are working in two shifts per day, the first from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and then 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., according to Bane.

Sgt. Shannon Persuhn is the first female sergeant in the history of the Aberdeen Police Department, according to Chief Henry Trabert, but the chief notes her gender had nothing to do with her promotion earlier this year.

In a two-week period, they work two days, followed by two days off, then work a three-day weekend, followed by two days off the next week, two on and the remaining three off, for 84 hours per two-week pay period. Four hours would be considered overtime, he said.

"The officers will never work more than 84 hours in a two-week period," Bane said, noting a typical pay period is 80 hours. "We have [procedures] in place, as best as supervisors can, to schedule every person on their shift for one eight-hour day during that two weeks."

A normal schedule includes three eight-hour shifts per day, and officers can take days off if needed. Everybody scheduled to work during 12-hour schedules must be on for his or her shift, though, according to Bane.

"As soon as we can get back to our normal schedule, we will," he said.

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