BALTIMORE – Results from a new study conducted by researchers at Washington State University and Central Queensland University suggest that complaints against U.S. police officers increase with 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.

“Our results suggest that consecutive night shifts, particularly when worked with daytime court hours, increase fatigue, limit sleep, and increase the odds of citizen complaints against police officers,” said lead author Samantha Riedy, MS, RPSGT, a doctoral student in the Experimental Psychology Graduate Program and the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University. “Citizen complaints are an important indicator of citizen dissatisfaction with how they are treated by officers, their perceptions about justice, and their willingness to cooperate with the police and help maintain public order. Our findings indicate that duty schedules and sleep opportunities need to be considered when scheduling officers in court.”

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 will be presented Sunday, June 3, in Baltimore at SLEEP 2018, the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS), which is a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society.

The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ Award #96-IJ-CX-0046).

Abstract Title: U.S. Police Department Rosters: Public Complaints and On-Duty Accidents
Abstract ID: 0174
Oral Presentation: Sunday, June 3, 4:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., Room 325
Poster Presentation: Monday, June 4, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Board 282
Presenter: Samantha Riedy

For a copy of the abstract or to arrange an interview with the study author or an AASM spokesperson, please contact AASM Communications Coordinator Corinne Lederhouse at 630-737-9700, ext. 9366, or

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