Fatigue and sleepiness on the job significantly raise the odds of officers drawing citizen complaints during their shift, according to a newly published study by a team of sleep specialists.

Their first-of-its-kind analysis finds that public complaints are roughly seven times more likely to occur on shifts with a traditionally high probability of officer tiredness—primarily, night shifts.

Samantha Riedy.

The study was led by Samantha Riedy, a PhD candidate in experimental psychology and a graduate research assistant at the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University (WSU). Joining her were Dr. Drew Dawson, a prominent sleep investigator with Central Queensland University in Australia, and WSU’s Dr. Bryan Vila, the foremost authority on the impact of sleep deprivation on police performance whose dataset from his classic “Tired Cops” research was used in this study.

“This [pattern] is not surprising,” Riedy writes, “given that night shift work is associated with greater fatigue; daytime sleep between night shifts tends to be reduced and less restorative than nighttime sleep; and off-duty court hours further restrict sleep between consecutive night shifts.”

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