Tustin police experience shift change in routines


The shifts, they are a-changin’ at the Tustin Police Department. 

Every six months, the department goes through a shift change. Personnel work hours turn from days to nights or nights to days, all in the name of keeping the Tustin streets, homes and businesses safe 24/7.

This transition affects more than half the department, and decisions are determined by seniority, said Sgt. Natalie Nguyen, a 16-year department veteran who transitioned from nights to days.

“It’s a relatively easy transition,” Nguyen said.

This change also brings the officers into a different set of typical calls for service. For example, daytime calls could include ones related to transients or keeping the peace, as well as quality-of-life issues.

“We’re a full-service agency,” Nguyen said. “Even if a parent called and said they’re having trouble getting a child to go to school today, we would still respond to that, though it’s a little different right now with COVID-19. But on a normal basis, we respond to everything.”

Tustin police officers moving from the night to day shift are, from left, Kylan Peterson, Natalie Nguyen and Justin Baeza.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Officer Justin Baeza, who has two children, noted that shift changes can make life that much more difficult.

“It’s a balance,” Baeza said. “You have to balance that home life and work life.”

Still, Baeza added, there are many benefits, such as working different areas of the city at alternating times.

“And you’re working with different people at different times,” Baeza said. “It gives you an opportunity to work with someone you’ve never worked with.”

Daytime also has the advantage of more personnel able to respond to patrol calls.  Although the number of officers assigned to patrol is relatively the same, the number of available personnel is larger during dayshift hours. There are motorcycle traffic officers, detectives, and officers working in administrative positions who could be called upon to respond if assistance is needed.

There are other benefits to the shift changes as well. For one, it allows department members to get familiar with different areas of the city as they move around. 

For another, it shifts resources around, such as a gang officer getting experience working different days of the week and seeing different problems.

“It’s allowing the community to get a different set of resources,” Nguyen said. “You’re constantly getting a shuffle of talent.”