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Deputies Face Grueling Schedules During RNC

The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office will require deputies to work 12-hour shifts for 10 consecutive days during the Republican National Convention.

They serve a county of 1.2 million people around the clock, investigating everything from auto burglaries to the sound of gunshots piercing the night air.

In less than three weeks, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office will tackle its largest feat to date: Keeping the peace across the county during the Republican National Convention while working 12-hour shifts for 10 days in a row, from Aug. 24 through Sept. 2.

"It's going to be exhausting for the deputies out on the street," said Capt. Andy Ross of District 3, which covers Original Carrollwood, Citrus Park, Westchase, Keystone, Odessa and Town N' Country. "We are getting deputies prepared for this as much as possible."

Long Hours Part of the Job

The 12-hour shifts aren't new for deputies, who currently work one of five shifts they bid on based upon seniority: 6 a.m. until 6 p.m., 7 a.m. until 7 p.m., 3 p.m. until 3 a.m., 6 p.m. until 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. until 7 a.m.

But working more than two days in a row is, Ross said.

Currently, if a deputy works on Monday and Tuesday of one week, they're off Wednesday and Thursday, and work Friday through Sunday, Ross said. The next week is the opposite: The deputy would be off on Monday and Tuesday, work Wednesday and Thursday and be off Friday through Sunday, Ross said.

Without a break during the RNC detail, Ross and other officials at the sheriff's office are preparing deputies for the grueling work schedule by handling small things for them.

Laundry, for one.

"We are working on agreements with a local cleaners to pick up and distribute uniforms," Ross said. "We're also telling them to make sure their family is doing things like keeping their yards up (that week)."

Working the RNC Is a Team Effort

About 4,000 law enforcement officers from agencies around the state will be dispatched to patrol the RNC, said Larry McKinnon, spokesman for the sheriff's office.

While Tampa Bay has hosted major events in the past, including the Super Bowl in 2009, McKinnon said the RNC is on a larger scale.

"We've handled these crowds before, but this is different because it's high profile, and there are so many dignitaries and protesters," McKinnon said.

Law Enforcement Shifts Can Take Their Toll

Susan Bramer, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker who practices in Carrollwood, said deputies already have a "high incidence of fatigue" while working their daily shifts, which could be exacerbated due to their work schedules during the RNC.

Increased fatigue could cause a higher risk of accidents, shorter attention span and reduced hand-eye coordination, Bramer said.

"My fear is, they would have a higher likelihood of using inappropriate uses of force if they are under stress," she said. "My recommendation for folks in that situation is that they would try as much as possible to stick to a regular sleep and waking cycle."

Ross said he wants citizens to be patient with law enforcement officers to ensure everyone's safety.

"Just work with us," he said. "Now is the time to practice those crime prevention tips we talk about, like closing your garage door and locking your car. Anything you can do to prevent a crime will be helpful to us."

What do you think about deputies working 12-hour schedules over a 10-day span? Tell us in the comments.

Camille C. Spencer August 08, 2012 at 12:58 PM
What do you think about the deputies schedules during the RNC?
RD August 08, 2012 at 03:57 PM
This should have been discussed with the Sheriff's Office in the planning stages when they were trying to get the convention here. If it's okay with the Sheriff's Office and they can cover those of us who depend on their services along with the RNC, that's all that matters.
Desiree Perez August 08, 2012 at 04:47 PM
The things many of us do today in modern times is crazy. Crazy time zones are even more likely with the internet and greater global connectivity. Many more people are making their own wierd schedules: living here in Florida, but in California time connecting with their friends and family. Hopefully, people will be too tired to start anything ugly while they keep their crazy schedules. I think that could be the lucky part for the deputies: we all have crazy schedules too. Desiree Perez
Camille C. Spencer August 08, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Ruth: Good point. Desiree: Let's hope things stay calm!
Truth teller August 08, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Our deputies are professionals I'm sure they will do their jobs and do them well no matter the circumstances
melody jameson August 08, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Camille..your story seems to hang on the 12-hour shifts and their potential ramifications...but the 12-hour shift is not new to deputies...it seems to me that it's not the length of the shift, but what is expected of them on a daily basis in the course of the shift that is most stressing...they too often are called upon to handle matters not related to law enforcement, for example... ....Regarding the RNC. of course, 12-hour shits for 10 days running are going to be taxing...but even that factor is not, to my mind, most critical...I'm much more concerned about the potential level of abuse and degradation they may be subjected to...they've trained for it and have prepared...they'll handle the long hours and manage that stress...they'll not overreact...but it may be something like war on Tampa streets...not pretty in person or in memory...what do cops do with PTSD?...
Camille C. Spencer August 08, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Melody: I think the biggest issue is concern over how they'll be able to handle 12-hour shifts over a longer period of time than usual. I think the PTSD issue that law enforcement officer and members of the military deal with should be delved into, but I don't think the scope of this story was necessarily about that. Hopefully, the officers patrolling during RNC week will be prepared - for anything.
Judy August 14, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Is the shifts for detention deputies going to change at all during RNC?

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