By MATT KOESTERS
The Clarksville Police Department’s experiment with 12-hour shifts for its officers has been deemed a success.
The Clarksville Town Council approved an amendment to its contract with the Fraternal Order of Police to make the new work schedule the norm at a work session Monday. The move simply makes the 12-hour shifts permanent going forward, as CPD had changed to the new shift format for evaluation purposes in January.
“I think this was supported all the way around,” said Clarksville Police Chief Mark Palmer. “The FOP supported it, the town liked the idea of it and as an administrator, I support it.”
Palmer estimates that the number of police on the street has increased by as much as 20 percent while minimizing overtime and training costs.
“It really helped me regulate to see how much money was going to be spent on covering overtime or additional training during vacation time,” Palmer said. “... Overall, we’ve seen good savings on our overtime budget as well as on training.”
Police now work longer shifts, but fewer days, and average anywhere from 36 to 48 hours per week. Officers now typically have every other weekend off, Palmer said.
The town council based its decision to make the new shifts permanent upon the success of the trial period, said Councilman Tim Hauber, who serves as the council’s liaison to the police department.
“The guys, with the exception of just a couple, everyone seemed to be in favor of it,” Hauber said. “It turned out to be a positive in just about all areas.”
“It’s working well,” added Town Council President Bob Polston.
Palmer said the program is good for a department the size of Clarksville’s, and that the trial period did not show any adverse side effects.
“That’s really why we wanted to monitor it for a year,” Palmer explained. “We wanted to see if there was fatigue, a reduction in productivity. We wanted to see if there was a reduction in response times. We wanted to see if there was an increase in gas, as well as wear on the cars, that sort of thing. Overall, we have not seen any side effects to that matter.”