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Should Cops Be Fit?
Old 11-12-2015, 03:11 PM   #1
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Should Cops Be Fit?

As a tax payer I think my police, fire and military should be physically fit. One way to assure this is to test them on a regular basis regardless of age or sex.

This local ruling should delight all fit criminals in town.

Quote:
Colorado Springs residents had a lot to say after hearing that Colorado Springs police officers will no longer have to take physical fitness tests this year.
I think its a mistake, Mary Jo Piccin told CBS4s Tom Mustin. I think the police need to be able to chase down them criminals.

Last Friday the Colorado Springs Police Department agreed to the demands of 12 female officers who filed a civil suit claiming the fitness tests are discriminatory. All the officers were over the age of 40.
Springs Officers Will No Longer Take Fitness Tests After Discrimination Lawsuit « CBS Denver
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Old 11-12-2015, 03:15 PM   #2
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Seems to me, being physically fit should not need to be mandated, as its a matter of self preservation when working in those professions, unless one is in an office admin type role.
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Old 11-12-2015, 03:24 PM   #3
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Old 11-12-2015, 03:27 PM   #4
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It depends.

Beat cops, firemen on the line, military one the line, sure. However, what about those that are not on the line, and will never be on the line? If the argument is 'Fit employees are cheaper employees', then sure. But, then every employer should have the right to demand the same.
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Old 11-12-2015, 03:28 PM   #5
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Cops should definitely be fit, but its easier said than done. You ride around in a patrol car all day getting very little exercise. You hardly ever have more than a few minutes to eat so you end up eating fast food every day. The cops who work the night shift have no choice but bring their meal to work or eat at IHOP.
Most cops start out young and can eat junk and be fine. They develop bad habits and when they start getting older its much tougher to change.
The biggest problem is what do you do with cops who arent fit? You cant fire them because most cops get fat around the same age that they are at their most valuable due to experience. Its costs way too much money to replace 10-15 yr vets with a rookie that you have to train. It will be another 5 yrs until he is running full speed, knowledge wise. Rookies make more mistakes that cost cities million of dollars in lawsuits than veteran officers do.
Then, you have the unions to deal with, lawsuits like the one listed above...etc.

Im not making excuses. I say this as a 5'11" 170 pound retired officer. Im lucky that I have good metabolism and I do like to stay active and work out.

Dallas PD has never had a fitness test or requirement other than for new hires (and they have waived it for women and other categories of people who they believed they needed to fill quotas). They have talked many times about having a fitness test that could be taken voluntarily and people who passed would get extra vacation days or something like that but it never got all the way thru the red tape.
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Old 11-12-2015, 03:38 PM   #6
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The person quoted in the original post who said cops should be fit to chase down the criminals has no idea how modern policing is done. More and more, police departments are telling their officers not to chase anyone. They are more worried about liability than catching bad guys and officers are more worried about getting fired than catching bad guys.
The less bad guys you chase and catch, the less bad guys you have to use force to put handcuffs on. Its almost impossible to forcibly arrest someone without it looking violent. If you dont believe me, tell a 16-25 year old to stand there and not let you put their hands behind their back. Then try to do it without hurting them. Even better, have someone video it and then watch it back.
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Old 11-12-2015, 03:41 PM   #7
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Are we talking about a beat cop or a detective? I can reasonably see the former needing higher fitness standards in some situations. Though never having been a cop, maybe that's just TV stuff. But in practice it seems reasonable that different roles have different standards.
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Old 11-12-2015, 03:52 PM   #8
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utrecht pretty much has it nailed. The working conditions are not conducive to a healthy lifestyle, you really have to make some extra effort. In the department where I worked there was emphasis on that during in-service training classes. Nonetheless there were a couple that could run a mile in 20 minutes flat.

And I brown bagged my lunches, not only because it was healthier but because it was cheaper. LBYM and all that....

Additionally we had a physical exam that we needed to pass. For younger officers in their 20's it was every three years, increasing in frequency until at age 40 and older it was annual. If you failed the physical (including a stress test) you had a limited time to fix whatever was wrong or you were done. If you were close to retirement age (15 years was the earliest but you took a heavy hit, not enough to survive on) but not yet there, this was a Very Bad Thing - you were handed your retirement contributions back and told "have a nice day". Needless to say, going out on a non-service-connected disability was feared so that was an incentive to stay in shape. It worked for me, I always had an exercise program and kept my weigh under control.

Now, they did try to keep people on a light duty status if there was a job available, but they can justify only so many people in the Records Section.
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Old 11-12-2015, 03:53 PM   #9
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Don't most fire departments require CPAT certification? I have a friend who's a firefighter and he has to recertify periodically. As one of the buffest people I know (former Navy Seal) it's not a big deal for him, though.
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Old 11-12-2015, 03:57 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by ziggy29 View Post
Are we talking about a beat cop or a detective? I can reasonably see the former needing higher fitness standards in some situations. Though never having been a cop, maybe that's just TV stuff.
Yeah, just TV stuff. At least where I worked everyone was held to the same standard. And once in a blue moon a detective does have to run and jump over fences and stuff.

And even when I was doing computer crime investigations one needed to have some strength. I think some of those old computers were cast iron - they were HEAVY!
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Old 11-12-2015, 04:01 PM   #11
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These are public service employees, they should be fit in order to do the job and also there is a side issue but just as important, health insurance and medical cost that have to be paid for with taxpayer money.
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Old 11-12-2015, 05:13 PM   #12
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In a perfect world yes, you would want cops to be fit. Theoretically at least, fewer injuries, maybe less sick time off. However Utrecht and Walt are right. The job makes it very difficult to work out and eat right. Shift changes, not enough sleep, family responsibilities, second jobs, overtime, not to mention a very limited selection of places to find food on midnights.

The second problem I see are law suits that would arise from cops unable to workout "on company time". Seems to me that if you want someone to pass a physical test you'd have to provide a facility and time to workout. In my former department that just wasn't happening. Too busy in most areas and the public would complain that cops were getting paid tax dollars to workout when they should be answering radio runs.
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Old 11-12-2015, 05:18 PM   #13
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The second problem I see are law suits that would arise from cops unable to workout "on company time". Seems to me that if you want someone to pass a physical test you'd have to provide a facility and time to workout.
My cousin is a fire fighter. He said almost all of the stations have some gym equipment that does get used. Of course, when 70% - 80% of their shift is downtime, there is always time to fit in a work out. Cops don't have any downtime.
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Old 11-12-2015, 05:28 PM   #14
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Everyone wants cops to be perfect. They want them to be experts in marriage counseling, people call them to discipline their kids, they need to be expert drivers, they need to be able to shoot straight, they need to be able to handle mentally unstable people, go to an old persons house and be empathetic and talk to them for an hour because they have no family and are lonely, right after handling a call where someone blew their head off with a shotgun. They have to worry about getting fired if they use force and it looks bad to people who have never had to use force on a person. They get disciplined for driving too fast to get to a call and help someone after someone calls the station to complain, but if they drive the speed limit, the response times are too high.

Now they have to be fit and in shape also? And they get paid how much? And people want to take away or severely limit their pensions also?

People have no idea what they are asking for. Its no wonder that less and less people are stupid enough to subject themselves to police work. Hiring numbers are WAY down in the last few years. Hiring standards are being lowered to fill hiring quotas so less qualified people are walking around with a badge and a gun and its only going to get worse.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:10 PM   #15
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Everyone wants cops to be perfect. They want them to be experts in marriage counseling, people call them to discipline their kids, they need to be expert drivers, they need to be able to shoot straight, they need to be able to handle mentally unstable people, go to an old persons house and be empathetic and talk to them for an hour because they have no family and are lonely, right after handling a call where someone blew their head off with a shotgun. They have to worry about getting fired if they use force and it looks bad to people who have never had to use force on a person. They get disciplined for driving too fast to get to a call and help someone after someone calls the station to complain, but if they drive the speed limit, the response times are too high.

Now they have to be fit and in shape also? And they get paid how much? And people want to take away or severely limit their pensions also?

People have no idea what they are asking for. Its no wonder that less and less people are stupid enough to subject themselves to police work. Hiring numbers are WAY down in the last few years. Hiring standards are being lowered to fill hiring quotas so less qualified people are walking around with a badge and a gun and its only going to get worse.
When I was looking at jobs recently I was shocked by how HIGH the pay was for an entry level police officer. In small town Wisconsin where an officer might take their gun out of the holster a handful of times in their career, they are getting around $25/hr plus overtime and excellent benefits. That's a lot for a job that doesn't require a college degree or specialized skills to get hired. It's one of the few jobs left that hire you then train you with pay. I don't have the 60 college credits required or the ability to pass the physical fitness test. If I new about the high pay and benefits 15 years ago when a high school diploma was enough then I would've gone into that job.
I'm sure it's a less desirable job in a high crime area with higher cost of living.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:22 PM   #16
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Another factor is how to define what "fit" means.

I'm retired military and we were required to pass an annual test, but it was generally possible to pass it even if you never worked out a day during the preceding year. Sure, you wiped yourself out with the effort, but most could pass it. OTOH, there were huge differences in the standards between the services, so what worked for one would never fly for another. I even had a good friend who was very fit but had such a large frame that he didn't pass the height/weight ratio in the book. He also had a harda$$ boss who went strictly by the book and ran him out of the service before he could qualify for military retirement.

Also, since we typically worked extremely long hours in the military (12 hours plus commuting time was common), it was easy for the boss to let you take much more than an hour for lunch if you wanted to spend part of them at the gym or just go for a long run. As long as you got your job done, the time wasn't begrudged. Cops normally don't have that luxury since their work hours are generally set in stone and filled with work.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:26 PM   #17
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When I was looking at jobs recently I was shocked by how HIGH the pay was for an entry level police officer. In small town Wisconsin where an officer might take their gun out of the holster a handful of times in their career, they are getting around $25/hr plus overtime and excellent benefits. That's a lot for a job that doesn't require a college degree or specialized skills to get hired. It's one of the few jobs left that hire you then train you with pay.
Pay scales vary widely depending on the agency, their standards, and of course what financial resources are available. Rest assured that here in WV they don't start at $25/hour. But in the MD county where I worked, a year out of the academy I was paid more than a state police captain barracks commander. It was okay if they were assigned to western or eastern MD, but in the DC area that was subsistence pay. We got along well with the state guys but we knew better than to talk about pay scales.

Oh, and where I worked they required a two year degree in 1973, and that's still the minimum, but now in practice it better be a bachelor's or close to it or perhaps some relevant military training. And the pay scales show it.

It depends on what the population wants and is willing to pay for. If you want a warm body to write speeding tickets any buffoon can do that and if that's all the public is willing to pay for that's what they'll get. If they want dedicated, hard-working, educated, honest, reliable people willing to take some physical risks the public is going to have to pay for that because every other potential employer out there wants those people too.
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Old 11-12-2015, 06:29 PM   #18
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