How to Easily Test and Implement New Patrol Schedules

As the needs of your department change, you might consider what a new shift rotation would look like.

February 7, 2022

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As the needs of your department change, you might consider what a new shift rotation would look like. Maybe you want a rotation with shorter shifts to prevent overworking your employees. Or your employees are added to shifts manually each month and you’re ready to create set schedules.

It can be tough to decide what shift rotation will be most successful for your department. It usually helps to try out different rotations and see what will work best. But figuring out how each rotation works and how employees will fall into it isn’t always easy.

A simple way to try out a variety of rotations is to plug the information into a spreadsheet. This lets you move people around and see how the rotations will cover your minimum manpower.

Trying Rotations In a Spreadsheet

For example, let’s take a look at a Pitman rotation. This is common rotation for public safety departments. The Pitman rotation is [2 on 3 off] [2 on 2 off] [3 on 2 off]. It can be covered in a variety of ways and is best for 15 to 125 people.

If you’d like employees to work 12-hour shifts, you’ll need at least 2 templates. Each template will be 2 weeks long since that’s how long it takes to repeat the rotation. This rotation will also need 2 squads. If you want to cover both days and nights 24/7, you’ll need at least 4 templates total. 

In Excel, you can plug in the names of your employees under each template. If you’d like more than 2 employees under each template, add more rows to the Excel file. You can do this by simply hovering over the cell row, right click, and then left click “Insert.” If you do not see that option, please click here for more assistance. You can also break this rotation up into 4 squads if you’d prefer each side of the rotation has its own squad.

Pitman schedule template in Excel

Instead of 12-hour shifts, let's say you’d prefer 8-hour shifts so employees aren’t working long hours. One 8-hour shift rotation option is [5 on 2 off]. This is another common rotation for public safety departments.

This rotation requires 3 squads to cover 24/7 and uses up to 7 templates. It’s best for 15 to 175 people. Each template will be 1 week long since the rotation repeats itself every week. 

Something to keep in mind with this rotation is you don’t necessarily have to use 7 templates. You can use a combination of templates such as 1, 3, and 5 or 2, 4, and 6. If the templates are longer than 1 week, you can also rotate your employees through days, swing and nights. Again, you can plug the information into a spreadsheet to test this out, as pictured below.

5 on 2 off schedule template in Excel

Once you have figured out the new schedules you want, you may be thinking, "Now what?"

Adding Rotations Into Scheduling Software

If you currently manage schedules through spreadsheets or on paper, you will need to plug these rotations into whatever format you have for those. Line your schedules up with the appropriate dates, and then print it out, post it on a bulletin board, or email it to all your employees. 

If you use scheduling software, you can create templates for your new rotations and publish them out for as far into the future as you need to. Once they are published, everyone will be able to see the new schedule the next time they log in. Let’s first use the Pitman schedule as an example to look at how to plug a new rotation into scheduling software.

You can build the Day Shift templates for each side of the rotation. You’ll want to make sure when creating templates that they are working the opposite days of each other.

pitman schedule template in software 1pitman schedule template in software 2

Once the Day Shift templates are added, you can create the Night Shift templates as well. This can be done by simply cloning or duplicating the templates and mass updating each shift at once from Day to Night Shift. You can then assign your employees to the appropriate template. When you create/publish the schedule, the templates add your employee's rotations automatically. You don't have to plug in the shifts one by one, thus saving you a ton of time.

To learn more about scheduling software built for law enforcement, click on the button below!

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