Results from a new study conducted by researchers at Washington State University and Central Queensland University suggest that complaints against US police officers increase when the officer has elevated fatigue.

Results from the study indicate that citizen complaints were most prevalent on night shifts, particularly consecutive night shifts. The researchers also found that going to court during the day between night shifts further increased the odds of citizen complaints, as the court hour occurred at a time of day when night shift officers would otherwise be resting for their next shift. This supports the idea that sleep restriction and fatigue, which increase when night shift officers must attend court, contribute to the likelihood that they will receive complaints from the public.

The study included data from 379 officers and 32,712 work shifts from a seminal study that examined whether fatigue was prevalent in policing (Vila et al., 2000). Officers at four United States police departments reported work hours, public complaints (2 of 4 departments), and on-duty accidents from 2 to 29 weeks. Fatigue and sleep duration were predicted by a biomathematical model of fatigue (FAID Quantum).

The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and presented at SLEEP 2018.