Study: Lack of sleep hurts Phila. police, public

CENTER CITY - December 20, 2011

The study looked at 5,000 officers nationwide, including 2,000 here in Philadelphia. It found they are three times more likely than the rest of us to suffer from serious sleep disorders.

"They were more likely to have unnecessary violence towards citizens or suspects, they were more likely to fall asleep at the wheel," said researcher Michael Grandner.

Philadelphia police are still investigating a crash that happened over the weekend. For no apparent reason, a police cruiser smashed into the rear of two other vehicles around 4:00 Sunday morning.

Meantime, a video posted on Youtube shows an officer slumped over with a newspaper in his lap, apparently dozing off in his cruiser. Half the officers surveyed for the study admit they have fallen asleep behind the wheel.

These are the men and women we count on to be extra alert.

"We rely on them to be vigilant and we rely on them to be able to make very quick decisions. And they have to make many very important decisions every day," said Grandner.

Grandner is a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Center for Sleep. He contributed editorial comment on the study which will be published Wednesday in Journal of the American Medical Association.

He says the police need to further study the issue and perhaps adjust the shift schedule for patrol officers. Right now, their shifts change every two weeks.

"That's a very quick change," said Grandner. "I mean maybe more of a gradual change to let the body adjust."

It's like they are constantly walking around with jet lag. Administrators at Police Headquarters say they want to study the full article when it's published Wednesday before making any comments.

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