A Colorado police department cut staff’s hours by 20% without reducing their pay. A sergeant says he has more time to watch his kids play sport and goes to work in a better mood.

  • The City of Golden Police Department moved all staff to a 32-hour schedule, including the chief.
  • Staff are still paid the same. Employee retention has improved, Sergeant Ben Salentine told BI.
  • Salentine says he has time to watch his kid’s sporting matches and go to the gym. He also goes to work “in a better mood.”

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A police department in a small city near Denver cut staff’s hours by 20% without reducing their pay as part of a four-day workweek trial.

The City of Golden started the pilot program in July, which generally cut employees’ workweeks from 40 to 32 hours. All roughly 70 employees at the city’s police department are taking part in the program, including the police chief.

Both badged staff who typically worked four 10- or 12-hour shifts and administrative staff who worked five eight-hour shifts now work four eight-hour shifts each week.

The trial was originally set to end in December. But it’s still ongoing, and could be introduced to other city departments, Sergeant Ben Salentine, who heads up the department’s public information work, told Business Insider. The program was initially introduced with the hopes of expanding it citywide.

“The reason why they did the police department right away is because we have the most diverse work schedules: 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Salentine said during a phone interview. “So if we could make it work, the hope was the rest of the city could as well.”

Salentine said that when the police department first proposed cutting employees’ hours, some were concerned about how it could affect their careers. But almost all are now supportive of the new schedules, he said.

“They’re getting paid the same amount of money for working less hours during a workweek and they can choose to use those hours how they see fit,” Salentine said. “That’s a pretty positive benefit.”

Staff working in administrative roles were allowed input on which day they wanted off each week, though a supervisor made the final call on the schedule, Salentine said. Some workers wanted Mondays or Fridays off so they could have a longer weekend, while others wanted Wednesdays off to break up their week, he said.

Salentine has personally felt the benefits of his shorter workweek. “I’ve had zero issue with seeing my child’s sporting events, going to family events,” Salentine told BI. “I’ve had a higher level of ability to be relaxed at home. I come in a little bit more refreshed.”

He said that he often used the extra two hours he had off a day to visit the gym. “I get home and then I’m better for my spouse, I’m better for my child, and then hopefully I show up to work the next day in a better mood as well,” he said. “So it’s been a pretty dramatic positive change for me.”

Salentine said that law enforcement was generally hard to recruit for. But since introducing the four-day workweek trial, Golden’s police department had better employee retention and was almost fully staffed, he said.

Golden City Manager Scott Vargo previously said that the police department would maintain productivity levels by using technology and automation, making sure staff didn’t carry out personal errands during working time, and removing distractions like email alerts. An important part of the revised operations was having fewer, shorter meetings with only the necessary staff present.

In a midpoint review, the police department noted that average response times for calls were considerably quicker during the first three months of the pilot than during the same period the prior year. Police Chief Joe Harvey said in November that arrest and vehicle ticket numbers hadn’t dropped since the four-day workweek was introduced.

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Grace Dean