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Fitness Within the Ranks Law Enforcement

Based on Overweight Officer Returned to Work and this week’s assigned readings, discuss the importance of physical fitness and a healthy lifestyle as a law enforcement officer. In your discussion, address the following:

Why is physical fitness important in a police officer’s development and subsequent career?

What restrictions in training objectives would an overweight police officer encounter in weaponless self-defense and martial arts training within a police academy?  

What regulations are imposed on police agencies with regard to physical fitness requirements after completion of initial training?  

What civil liability, if any, does the agency face if an officer does not maintain a level of physical fitness required of a situation where significant injury or death occurs to a civilian or fellow officer as a direct result of the officer’s level of fitness?

Police are there to provide public safety, but what if their weight gets in the way?  Obesity is a number one public health problem in our country. People are exercising less, and eating more. “An overweight Bellevue police officer fired in 2007 because of his physical condition has returned to work, saying he expects a hostile work environment from the top down” (Overweight Officer, 2009, par.1). Is this a question of discrimination?

Physical fitness is a state of health and wellbeing that enables the body to function efficiently in different activities such as work, leisure and even sports. There are various ways in which physical fitness can be achieved. This includes correct nutrition, exercises, physical activity and rest. Physical fitness is very important in the life of each and every individual. Physical fitness is very important for the safe and effective performance of police officers in their career. This is because their career involves critical and essential job functions. Research has shown that the effectiveness of police officers depend on the extent of their physical fitness.

The job functions of police officers require them to be physically fit since they are normally involved in activities such as war. In such cases the war puts a great premium upon the strength, agility and coordination since their lives are often dependent upon them. Some of the restrictions that an overweight police officer would encounter in weaponless self-defense and martial arts training within police academy are that they would not be in a position to perform their jobs more quickly and efficiently as compared to the physical fit police officers.

The overweight police officer would also encounter restrictions in training objectives the overall military performance is based on a combination of individual strength both physically and mentally and hence the overweight officer cannot contribute more in terms of performance like the other officers who are physically fit. Some of the regulations that are imposed on police agencies with regard to physical fitness requirements after completion of the initial training are such that the police officers shall be evaluated using the standards developed by the Cooper Institute for Aerobics research and every police officer who coincides with the 30thpercentile of the general population in each of the five hundred evaluations is eligible for employment (Institute of Medicine, 1998).

There are no two jurisdictions the same, when it comes to training requirements to be a police officer. The unions are there to protect those who are a member. There are those that do stay  in shape. Pride sets in when one is in shape, there are several that feel they should get paid for staying in shape? What if the department gave incentives to a police officer for staying in shape?

Consider this, What would happen if you had to chase after a suspect? You would put yourself and your partner in danger. Being overweight you are a liability  to yourself and your partner. "Medical research shows that stress actually changes the nervous system and hormones in ways that encourage fat accumulation around the waist," Carmona said. "This type of fat has been linked to increased rates of high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. National Fire Protection data shows that heart attacks caused by overexertion or stress caused 40 percent of all firefighters deaths in 2001. This is the number one cause of line of duty deaths for firefighters." (Carmona, 2003, par. 4).  Put down the donuts, and get out of your vehicles. 

“In the case of Parker v. District of Columbia, the arresting officer was accused of using excessive force to affect an arrest of a combative subject. The officer’s lack of physical fitness and inability to use defensive tactics or less-lethal options resulted in his discharging his firearm, rendering the suspect a paraplegic. The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department was found to be deliberately indifferent to the physical training needs of its officers, and the plaintiff was awarded a substantial sum of money” (Quigley, 2008).

1.  .1.5 Mile Run, 2. 300 Meter Run , 3. Vertical Jump, 4. 1RM Bench Press and/or 1 Minute Push Up, 5. 1 Minute Sit Up.

This fitness test has the validity to predict an officer’s ability to perform essential and critical physically demanding tasks regardless of age, gender or handicap condition. This test has also been found scientifically valid and defensible in court, as they are job related (Cooper Institute, n.d.).


Carmona, R. (2003, March 2). CNN.com - Surgeon general to cops: Put down the donuts –Retrieved from www.cnn.com/2003/HEALTH/02/28/obesity.police/ - Similar

Institute of Medicine (U.S.). (1998). Reducing stress fracture in physically active military   women. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press.

Overweight Police Officer Returns To Force | KETV Home - KETV ... (2009, July 29). Retrieved from www.ketv.com/Overweight-Police-Officer-Returns-To.../10178660 - Similar

Quinones, S. (n.d.). Physical Fitness and Wellness in Law Enforcement. Retrieved from https://www.fdle.state.fl.us/.../Quinones-Sonia-RESEARCH-PAPER-pdf.a... - Similar

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