Hoover Police making switch to 12-hour shifts

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER — The Hoover Police Department is working to get more police officers on the street — without incurring extra costs.

Hoover Police Capt. Jim Coker said the department might have found a way to do just that by changing to 12-hour shifts from the traditional eight-hour shifts. The department made the change Jan. 8.

“Before the change, we had three shifts,” Coker said. “By doing away with one of those shifts, we move those officers to one of the other two shifts, putting more on the streets.”

Coker said working in 12-hour shifts should allow officers to respond faster to distress calls. Also, officers should be safer because there will be more officers available.

“If we were really busy and we had a wreck on the interstate, we might send one officer or two officers. Now we might send more officers,” he said. “We think this will be better response time for the public.”

Coker said officers will work 80 hours apiece over two-week periods. Officers will never work more than three days in a row before getting time off.

Every officer will have every other Friday, Saturday and Sunday off, Coker said.

“So far as being able to do things with your family, that’s a very important thing to do,” Coker said.

The change to 12-hour shifts also allows the department to avoid excessive overtime pay and may lead to savings, Coker said.

“The police department has to be fiscally responsible,” he said. “The city’s budget is finite.”

However, the department will not know if the change saves money, or how much, until the end of the year, Coker said.

He said Hoover officers were given four months’ notice before the schedule change so they could “put their affairs in order,” such as childcare or college course schedules.

Now that the change is in effect, Coker said officers are adjusting well.

“With change comes a period of time when you have to get used to the new schedule,” he said. “We talked to several other departments before deciding to do this. The city of Mobile has over 300 officers, and they really like it.

“When we get deeper into the schedule, we will evaluate it and see if it’s working for us. We think it will,” he added.