By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD
How many non-police folks think that days off can be a subject? In the business world, it’s weekends and holidays off. You can plan an anniversary dinner a year in advance if you’re still married in a year.
Cops are lucky to be able to plan a week in advance.
Well, let me tell you—figuring days off has become a science for officers in large departments. Some smaller departments have a mandatory watch rotation. Six months on days, six months on nights and six months on graveyard. They also have set working days, 3/12 (3 days of 12 hours) shifts will work Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and have the rest of the week off. You could also work Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for six months. Figure that into your child care—that is if you can find the time to make a baby! I barely got the next day off when my son was born. You sometimes have to make a reservation just to see your spouse. Now days they have bonding where the father (cop) takes weeks off to bond with the newborn child.
Some bonding men went fishing without their child? Pigs!
I’ve almost lost you, huh? In the LAPD, a lot depends on what watch you work. If your working days or PM’s it a little easier to figure out what days off you have. If you have Tuesday, the 16th, then you have Tuesday the 16th off! If you work grave yard and you have the 16th off, you go to work the night of the 16th. Huh? That’s right. When we were on eight hour shifts, Morning Watch started at 11:00 PM on the day before you show working. Back to the 16th. You get invited to a party on the 16th, you need to take the 17th off or leave the party early and no drinking of an alcohol beverage. Some officers never got it straight! I had a former retired partner, Leo, tell me that he still had cop nightmare dreams about submitting days off. Bet you thought that a shooting was stressful!
In the LAPD, you submitted a request for days off. You got nine days off for every 28 days you work and submitted your request a week in advance of your next work period. That’s right, you had to guess what you were going to do 28 days from now. I use to sit down with my wife and discuss what days we need off for the next month. We studied over school calendars, appointment calendars, birthdays and most important Court Subpoenas. Nothing worse than going to court on your day off.
Here’s another quirk: you submitted your days off with the other two members of your car and the other officers on your watch. You were asked to balance your car, which means two of you working every day. That only worked if the entire watch balanced their car. I never saw that happen in 35 years. Everyone wanted that three-day weekend. So you submit your days off after careful planning with your wife, doctor and vet. Oh, don’t forget your child’s preschool play that you can’t miss, again! You turn in your days off request and cross your fingers.
That never worked either.
Next—a rookie sergeant has the outcome of your next month’s days off on the eraser of his pencil.