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Vacation Bidding in Public Safety - a Win-Win for All Concerned

Posted by Jackie Belasky

Mar 10, 2017 3:37:35 PM

Bidding for time off is a fair way to ensure there are always enough public safety employees on duty.


Vacation bidding programs are a helpful way to balance the push and pull of scheduling at your public safety agency. Whether you're in the law enforcement, fire or EMS sphere, you can't afford to have too many employees off-duty at any given time.

On the other hand, you still need a way to ensure that your workforce can take vacations and re-charge. The stress of public safety work can take a toll on personnel who feel like they never get a chance to get away.

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Topics: Scheduling

Holidays present scheduling challenges for public safety personnel

Posted by Jackie Belasky

Dec 6, 2016 12:59:23 PM

Keeping emergency services fully staffed on holidays is a special challenge.


Whether you're operating a fire or police department, or another type of public safety agency, scheduling shifts for your team means dealing with challenges like managing regulatory compliance policies while minimizing overtime. The complexity is only compounded at the holidays - how can you balance a desire to give personnel time off with the demands of keeping the required number of staff members on call at any time?

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Topics: Scheduling, Vacation Bidding

Seattle Overtime Audit Shows Lack of Spending Control

Posted by Jackie Belasky

Jul 21, 2016 5:58:50 PM

A recent audit showed how the Seattle Police Department is struggling to keep control of overtime spending.


There are a number of reasons why a municipal department may experience escalating overtime costs. 

Sometimes, it's because the department is facing an unexpected spike of work and needs all hands on deck. Other times, it may be the result of a shortage of full-time employees. 

But there can be cases in which excessive department overtime is simply the result of ineffective scheduling processes. A recent audit of the Seattle Police Department suggests that it is one of those times. If it does not address this problem, the city could find it difficult to continue to provide residents with the levels of public safety services that they have come to expect.

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Topics: Scheduling, Overtime, Police

Officers Must Be Prepared to Deal With the Mentally Ill

Posted by Jackie Belasky

Jun 7, 2016 3:11:19 PM

Police need more training to deal with calls involving mentally ill individuals.


According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, less than 5 percent of Americans experience a serious mental condition in a given year. However, these individuals make up a disproportionate share of those who are arrested and imprisoned annually. As many as 20 percent of jail inmates and 15 percent of those housed in state prisons are mentally ill, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center. And though it can be difficult to collect reliable statistics on police encounters, The Christian Science Monitor cited one estimate taken in New York City in 2002, which found that the NYPD received about 150,000 calls involving "emotionally disturbed persons" each year.

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Topics: Scheduling, Law Enforcement, Police, Training

Police Shortage Boosts Overtime Spending, Hurts Response Times

Posted by Jackie Belasky

Mar 24, 2016 7:00:00 AM

Nationwide statistics show that average crime rates have fallen significantly in the past two decades. However, this hasn't been the case in every part of the country. Some cities have experienced brief crime spikes in the past few years. Others are simply growing more populous. This — combined with the aftereffects of the last recession — has left them with police shortages.

Shortages of police officers can be problematic for multiple reasons. With fewer officers, it can be difficult to respond to emergency calls as quickly as public safety experts would like. In addition, efforts to maintain full coverage with a short-handed staff puts more pressure on existing sworn officers — and boost municipal overtime spending.

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Topics: Scheduling, Law Enforcement, Overtime

EMS Departments Face Volunteer Shortages [Video]

Posted by Jackie Belasky

Feb 29, 2016 7:00:00 AM

While major cities rely on full-time, professional EMS departments for their emergency response services, smaller municipalities in less populated areas are more likely to depend on volunteers. Unfortunately for them, there aren't as many signups as there used to be.

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Topics: Workforce Management, Scheduling, EMS

How can staffing automation deter prison disruptions? [Video]

Posted by Jackie Belasky

Jan 11, 2016 2:47:22 PM

In September, a 19-year-old inmate who was serving three life sentences for murder escaped from the Allen Oakwood Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio. It took state police several ours before they finally tracked him down.

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Topics: Scheduling, Corrections

Police Across the US Working Overtime After San Bernardino Attacks

Posted by Jackie Belasky

Dec 17, 2015 11:08:18 AM

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After the tragic terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California that shook the entire nation, police departments across the U.S. are ramping up their security efforts in an attempt to prevent another devastating attack. In particular, large-scale events like parades, sporting events and other public happenings will continue as scheduled, but under the watch of an increased police presence that will stretch the human resources of local and state police departments considerably until the threat level returns to normal.

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Topics: Scheduling, Law Enforcement, Overtime

Florida prisons face severe staffing shortage

Posted by Jackie Belasky

Oct 23, 2015 10:23:02 AM


To understand the consequences of a severely understaffed prison system, one does not need to look much further than the state of Florida. 

A recent independent audit commissioned by the Florida Department of Corrections found that the state's prisons are "chronically understaffed" to the point where an emergency ought to be declared.

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Topics: Workforce Management, Scheduling, Corrections

Colleges boost police staffing to combat excessive drinking [Video]

Posted by Jackie Belasky

Sep 25, 2015 2:48:42 PM

As students prepare to move back to college campuses all across the country for the fall semester, campus police are making plans to ensure their safety throughout the year.

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Topics: Scheduling, Campus Police

About Orion Communications

As workforce management and data interface experts, Orion Communications is a leading provider of public safety workforce management software.  Orion’s AgencyWeb® software helps agencies simplify complex workforce management processes and reduce labor cost. Orion has been serving the public safety industry since 1998 and is a certified women-owned business headquartered in Dallas, Texas.

For more information, please contact Jackie Belasky at 214-361-1203, #2413 or jbelasky@orioncom.com.