Career Physical Fitness Standards

We require officers to be in shape to start their careers; why not require them to stay that way?


Of course, the law that mandates cops at traffic work sites is regarded as a God-send here, and lawmakers who oppose the routine attempts to repeal it are lionized by officers and their unions. I tell the guys and gals here that they've been snookered. If their agencies didn't have the doling out of well-paid after-hours details (which are paid by other people's money) to compensate for the low wages they receive from their police job, then the agencies would be forced to pay them better to begin with. That's simple supply and demand. Instead, they've been tricked into working twice as many hours to get the wage that they should be getting from their regular job alone. So the law that ostensively helped cops by making lucrative after-hours work available to them has actually had the effect of depressing their police pay, keeping them exhausted, and sucking up all the time that a normal person has to maintain a level of fitness (let alone raise a family, etc.)

How do we get cops fit?

There are apparently some legal issues with requiring fitness standards, and of course there's usually union opposition. Police officers are like all human beings in that they respond to incentives, and many agencies have taken the step of offering bonuses to officers that meet a (usually pretty easy) fitness standard. Naturally, the greater the incentive, the more officers will participate. This is a great deal all around; everyone wins: the officers, the agency, the insurance carriers and the taxpayers. So I strongly encourage officers to push their agency to institute a generous fitness incentive.

Installing weight rooms in the agency is also a good idea in that it will get some officers to work out that might not, although I know many officers with nice weight gyms in their department who prefer to join a local gym instead, just to get out of the building.

Many tactical teams have workout time built into their paid shifts. That's something to think about next time your contract is up for negotiation. What if you had a half-hour of paid workout time every shift?

It is important to realize that for most officers, getting and staying reasonably fit is not a lot of work, nor is it expensive. It takes some discipline, but anything that's worth anything does. One-half hour a day will usually do the trick: run 3 miles every other day, and do 18-24 weight sets in the gym on the other days, and take a day a week off. That's not much to add to your life, in most cases. I mean, asking someone to sacrifice two hours of sleep a night would be asking a lot, but getting up a half-hour earlier? Or watching one-half hour less of TV? I agree that not everyone actually has a half-hour to give up a day, but most of us can, especially if it's for something important, and there's precious little that's more important than our own health.

The cost is also minimal - you can run for the cost of a pair of shoes a year, and weight workouts can be done quite effectively at home with just body weight exercises (just Google body weight exercises). Finally, eating right (and certainly eating less) won't increase your food budget by much if at all, and any increase will be offset by you're not eating junk.

So: career fitness standards for cops? I can't think of a good reason why not.

What do you think?



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