The Bellingham Police Department serves 90,000+ residents in the roughly 30 square miles of the coastal city of Bellingham, which is located about twenty miles from the Canadian border and 90 miles from Seattle in Washington.
Like many law enforcement agencies, Bellingham Police Department used pen and paper to create and track staff schedules. As technology continues to advance, many departments like Bellingham PD are also modernizing internal operations to help ensure their critical workforce is equipped to protect the communities they serve.
Lieutenant Andria Fountain has been with the Bellingham Police Department for 20 years and helps keep the department running smoothly with Vector Scheduling. Fountain initially assisted in selecting and implementing the intelligent, Vector Scheduling rules-based tool in 2018 to help keep better track of their 10/40 schedule, in which eight patrol teams work five days and are off four days. With this complex shift design, four teams work overlapping shifts while the other four work opposite days.
Fountain shared, "Overlapping shifts made things challenging. We were trying to keep track of all the people on different shifts across four different supervisors. We were using a notebook, but it was hard to follow scratched-out changes or even read the handwriting. We thought there had to be a better way to do this. There has to be software out there that can help track multiple trainings, vacations, days off, and all the moving parts that come with an agency our size."
Fountain found what they were looking for in Vector Scheduling.
Bellingham PD utilizes Vector Scheduling to manage the department's 104 officers. Like many law enforcement departments and other public safety disciplines, the department is experiencing staffing shortages. Vector Scheduling helps Fountain and other administrators optimize scheduling for their officers and track overtime limits determined by the department's policy and Officers' Guild Contract to help prevent burnout.
"We use rest time a lot for officers that work the later shifts. By contract, if we want them to come in to do training on Friday, we can't have them working ten hours Thursday night and expect them to come in for ten hours on Friday, so they get ten hours of rest time between shifts," said Fountain. "It's not time out of their vacation time. It's department time. The system denotes that they're on rest time, indicating they're likely due back, for court or something else."
Moving from a pen and pad scheduling process to a web-based system with a mobile app added a lot of conveniences. Officers can check their schedules from any web-enabled device without having to come or call into the office. They can also see who is on shift to help inform time off requests.
"Another thing that's been helpful is having the Scheduling software inform officers about their days off so they can actually look ahead and request time off. Before, they would have to try and call into the sergeant on a different team to determine if there was enough coverage that they could take off," shared Fountain. "Now, everyone can look at the schedule at any point in time and know where everybody is."
When it comes to filling open shifts, Bellingham PD utilizes Vector Scheduling's intelligent callback feature to ensure the right officers, and only the right officers, are notified of available shifts.
"We have different callback groups set up,” Fountain said. “And we have different types of overtime, like regular overtime, supervisor overtime, and outside employment overtime. We have those all set up so that everyone doesn't get notified as supervisors recognize shortages and initiate callbacks. Blasts go out only to the individuals in the groups selected."