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Why police leaders should use personnel scheduling software

Scheduling software written specifically for law enforcement can provide user-friendly access, efficient tools for administration and ultimate cost savings benefits

Law enforcement leaders are continually plagued by the complications associated with personnel scheduling. Creating a schedule to account for police staffing needs such as graveyard, swing and rotating shifts, plus labor laws, overtime, extra-duty assignments and training hours – all while keeping in mind minimum staffing requirements, union rules and agency policies – is a daunting task. Administrative leaders should take advantage of assistance afforded to them through the latest software design packages available on the market.

Several options available to the law enforcement community can assist with the challenging chore of creating duty rosters and civilian schedules. Unlike paper calendars, which must be copied and disbursed, or handwritten schedules posted on a whiteboard in the briefing room, the technology of writing schedules online is faster and easier, more accurate and extremely efficient.

Personnel Features
Many of the scheduling software program features include a cloud-based database capable of maintaining complete employee records. The database can be configured to track employee data such as address, phone numbers, driver’s licenses, certifications and emergency contact information.

The database can be securely accessed and viewed by personnel and payroll clerks from multiple locations and even via mobile devices. All of the agency employee information can be kept in one central location and stored securely on cloud servers, which are hosted by program vendors.

Tracking Capabilities
Many law enforcement scheduling software packages offer the ability to combine scheduling capabilities with time, attendance and payroll functionality into a single database. Scheduling software programs offer administrators the option of scheduling under pre-configured shift rotations including 12-, 24- and 48-hour shift durations.

Administration can track specified time allotments for meetings, training courses and court appearances. Scheduling program features can include a running tally of training hours for each officer or staff member to keep necessary certifications such as CPR up to date.

Budgetary Benefits
Over- and understaffing can be easily managed and mitigated through a scheduling software program. Software programs written specifically for law enforcement personnel scheduling include capabilities to adjust shift assignments, maintain overtime policies as entered into the system, define hourly staffing costs, overtime exempt details and officer-defined work hour constraints based upon work assignments, skill set or position.

Most organizational scheduling programs rely on data input that includes the total number of personnel, number of shifts assigned and required minimum staffing numbers. With this data plugged into the scheduling system, the program can make recommendations for staffing placement. The recommendations can even be configured to link to each employee’s skill set and training as entered into the program.

The records of the officers who are scheduled for court appearances can be easily located within the system and simply edited should an appearance be cancelled. This detailed accuracy will make for fewer payroll errors and less employee time spent searching for and amending payroll records.

Efficiency Benefits
Software compatibility and interface with associated departments such as courts, records and mobile dispatch computers will assist in the streamlining of agency staffing, training, overtime, and adjustments. Scheduling programs with this specific interface can notify supervisors of their officers’ court or training dates and provide recommendations for staffing replacement officers to fill the vacancies. Any associated timecard data will be forwarded directly to the appropriate payroll department electronically.

Scheduling software with user-friendly officer availability can cut down on erroneous officer absenteeism. With the specialized scheduling software portal, officers can access their shift schedules from their personal mobile devices at any time. Notifications can be sent to officers directly when scheduling changes are needed or in the event of required overtime. Officers can be advised instantly during a mass or emergency event with information on where officers are to report and at what time. All entries made into the system can be subsequently gathered and produced into customized reports.

Facial Identification and Evidence
Advancement in technology has provided for the development of superior facial identification software, which can benefit law enforcement agencies. Software can be installed in the network and configured to recognize employees’ faces and document entry to and exit from facilities to support shift scheduling. This data can be shared across facilities and added and deleted simply by administration securely.

Many software options are available to assist the law enforcement community with the industry-specific challenges of creating duty rosters and civilian schedules. Scheduling software written specifically for law enforcement can provide user-friendly access and more accurate schedules and payroll records, as well as time and cost savings benefits.

Melissa Mann is recently retired from the field of law enforcement. Her experience spanned 18 years which included assignments in Corrections, Community Policing, Dispatch Communications and Search and Rescue. Melissa holds a BS in Criminal Justice and MA in Psychology with an emphasis on studies on the psychological process of law enforcement officers. She holds a deep passion for researching and writing about the lifestyle of police and corrections work and the far-reaching psychological effects on the officer and their world.