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Syracuse police officers benefitting from new schedule, wait times reduce

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — On his Tipperary Hill beat, it was hour number six for Officer Joe Hilliker. The 23-year veteran had four more hours to go in his day.

The days have been much better since the new work schedule kicked in. After four days on, he’ll have four days off.

“I’ve noticed it myself. It’s definitely re-energized me. It’s just that downtime of not responding to these calls because the four-two schedule was a quick turnaround, so you’re back here quick,” Hilliker said. “The downtime gives you a little more time to relax, and refresh yourself, and makes it easier to get back out here and get back at it.”

The police union pushed for the four-on-four off, four-on-three off schedule. It turns into 48 more days off a year. And the feedback from the officers has been positive.

“I took a phone call from a senior officer yesterday on the day shift, who was not initially a proponent of the new schedule,” said Joe Moran, Syracuse Police Union president. “Went out of his way to call me and said, I cannot believe the great experience I’m having with this schedule. My wife is happier with me. I’m able to complete more odd jobs around the house. I’m fully supportive of the new schedule.”

The new schedule is better for the officers mentally and physically. But is it better for the community? The indications are that it is.

With shifts overlapping, there are more officers out on the streets to answer calls when the volume is the highest.

“When we look at priority three calls in October of 2022, we were responding to calls received to dispatch 52 minutes, and now it’s down to 31 minutes. November was very similar, 43 minutes, compared to 27 minutes, and December is approximately 41 minutes to 33. So there’s a substantial amount of time that people are not waiting for the police to show up and handle their calls for service,” said Deputy Chief of Police Mark Russin.

“So not only is the new schedule benefiting the membership and the cops but so far what we can tell is, it’s benefiting the community,” Moran explained.

And Officer Hilliker is seeing those small victories.

“It’s decreased the wait times and people are noticing it,” Hilliker said. “I would get yelled at a lot, ‘What took you three to four hours to get here?’”

With fewer complaints and more days to compress, Officer Hilliker agrees it’s a win-win.

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