Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 111–120 | Cite as

The impact of work shift and fatigue on police officer response in simulated interactions with citizens

  • Lois JamesEmail author
  • Stephen James
  • Bryan Vila



This study investigated the impact of work shift and fatigue on officers’ responses during simulated interactions with citizens.


Using a quasi-experimental design, participants (n = 50) responded to multiple branching scenarios in a laboratory-housed use-of-force simulator. Each scenario had the potential to end peaceably or turn deadly, depending on how the officers responded. Officers who worked across four patrol shifts were tested on two occasions—after five consecutive shifts and again 72 h after completing their last shift.


Day-shift officers were less fatigued (measured using the Psychomotor Vigilance Test) than night-shift officers (f = 44.411; df = 1, 90; p < 0.001). Furthermore, officers were more fatigued when they were tested at the end of their work week than after 72 h off-duty (f = 12.030; df = 1, 90; p < 0.001). In the simulator, officers from the day shift were more likely to respond in ways that engineered cooperative outcomes (f = 4.81; df = 3, 549; p < 0.01).


These findings offer insight into how shift work and fatigue influence police–citizen interactions. Implications for de-escalation and procedural justice in policing are discussed.


Police Shift work Fatigue De-escalation Procedural justice 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sleep and Performance Research CenterWashington State University College of NursingSpokaneUSA
  2. 2.Elson S. Floyd College of MedicineWashington State University Health SciencesSpokaneUSA
  3. 3.Department of Criminal Justice and CriminologyWashington State UniversitySpokaneUSA

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