By Hal Collier, Retired LAPD

So you carefully plot out your days off for the following month. You submit your request and hope you get something close to what you asked for. The rookie sergeant has the entire watch’s days off requests. That’s usually about thirty to thirty-five highly trained officers, all with loaded guns. You don’t want to piss them off.


The first thing the sergeant does is put everyone days off on a master sheet. He is given a “haves” and “needs” for each day. “Haves” are how many officers show working that day by their requests, the “needs” show what the bare minimum number of officers you need to work. You almost always have too many officers working mid-week and never enough asking to work weekends. The master sheet would look something like this: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, you had 30 “haves” and only 20 “needs.” Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, you had 10 “haves” and 20 “needs.”  Let me do the math for you. To balance the days off, you have to take away 10 officers weekends and give them a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. That’s just one weekend.


Some brand-new sergeants who didn’t spend much time in the field and is only working patrol until he/she gets off probation. He/she didn’t care if the officers got crappy days off. They only want to get back into the building to network with the brass. If the new sergeant takes the short-cut, he just takes away officers’ days off requests. Some officers get nothing they asked for and end up with a bunch of singe days off. Nothing worse than a single day off on Morning watch (graveyard). An officer could end up with days off that go something like this: work 2, off 3, work 1, off 2, work 10, off 1. The sergeant who did those days off was likely to have a flat tire on his personal car.


The new sergeant, who was pretty proud of himself, submitted the days off to the Watch Commander (W/C) for approval. 10 minutes later, the sergeant got them back to do all over again. The W/C probably saved the sergeant’s life.