Investigating the routine dispatch tasks performed by police officers

Robin Orr, Benjamin Hinton, Andrew Wilson, Rod Pope, James Jay Dawes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)
12 Downloads (Pure)


Police officers perform a variety of physical tasks that can range from deskwork to chasing down fleeing suspects on foot. If not sufficiently prepared these tasks can lead to an increased risk of injury or task failure. The aim of this study was to profile the routine dispatch tasks performed by the Australian law enforcement officers of a state police force by frequency and duration. Participants for this study (n = 53: male n = 43, age = 33.5 ± 7.7 years, years of service = 7.2 ± 6.4 years: Female n = 10; age = 31.6 ± 9.1 years, years of service = 7.1 ± 6.1 years) were drawn from ten different police stations. Data reporting the tasks attended, their priorities, and their durations were gathered from a computer-aided dispatch system. Data from 77 shifts (3.8 ± 4.0 tasks/shift) captured 292 tasks attended (29.2 ± 17.5 task per station). ‘Check bona fides’ (checking an individual’s identification; 27%) was the most frequently occurring task followed by attending a domestic incident (14%). The longest task was attending an accident (mean = 43.50 ± 78.85 min, range 2–249 min). The results of this study suggest that police tasks are highly varied in terms of type and duration and these may differ between regions. An understanding of the dispatch tasks police officers are required to attend can inform injury mitigation and return-to-work rehabilitation practices.
Keywords: law enforcement; occupational health; duties; tactical; return-to-work; rehabilitation
Original languageEnglish
Article number54
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2020


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