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Mandatory Bi-Annual Physical Fitness Testing for Public Safety Officers


July 2, 2013
By Jevon Thompson

2461 words

Mandatory Bi-Annual Physical Fitness Testing for Public Safety Officers

Jevon Thompson

Norwich University

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Abstract

Public safety officers should be required to pass a mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test in order to prove they are healthy enough to perform job-related tasks. This capstone will address three valuable reasons why mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test should be required. The reason is to assist the public safety officer, public safety agency, and society as a whole. Public safety administrators must verify that officers are able to perform job-related tasks and are healthy enough for duty. Other elements discussed are cardiovascular fitness, obesity, physiological factors, coping strategies, and self-esteem. Lastly, the research ventures into the political and administrative side of public safety as it relates to physical fitness. Areas addressed are fiscal relations, absenteeism rates, financial concerns, liability, injury, preventable health risks, public perception, confidence, national and international perspective. The conclusion will reflect the totality of research that supports mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test.

Mandatory Bi-Annual Physical Fitness Testing for Public Safety Officers

Public Safety and Officer Health

Maintaining fitness and health for public safety officers is essential. Public safety officers should be required to pass a mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test, in order to prove they are healthy enough to perform job-related tasks. Without a mandatory fitness test, it cannot be determined if public safety officers are healthy enough for duty. The aim of this capstone is to influence police training commissions, public safety directors, fraternal order of police leaders, public administrators, legal counsels, and legislatures to develop policy for mandatory physical fitness programs at the federal, state, and local level.

Mandatory Bi-Annual Fitness Test

Purpose/Performance

The purpose of mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test is to certify that officers are able to perform job-related tasks and are healthy enough for duty. Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test are administered twice annually and measures the officer’s ability to perform job-related duties. Physical fitness test must have content validity and be reflective of job-related physical tasks. Public safety administrators must take the issue of physical fitness and officer safety seriously. The officer’s survival during an aggressive encounter literally depends on good health and fitness. There is a relationship between fitness and job performance. Officers that are physically in shape have reduced stress levels and are confident in their abilities to perform well. Therefore, it is essential that public safety officers be physically tested twice annually to assess their ability to perform job-related tasks. Testing twice annually ensures that officers are maintaining physical fitness standards and are regularly taking a proactive approach with their health. The officer’s life and career depends on it.

Safety/Implementation Strategies

Poor physical fitness is an officer safety issue that must be rectified. Mandatory physical fitness test assist with reducing poor physical fitness and can boost confidence levels. Safety must be made a priority. Officers that are in poor health may not survive a dangerous encounter with a dynamic suspect. Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test will identify officers that are a safety liability and health risk. Public safety officers that do not meet physical standards should consider occupations that do not require employees to be physically fit. Public safety organizations and the community deserve qualified officers that are able to assist their needs and take on difficult challenges that may require stamina, strength, and endurance. This is beneficial for the public safety officer and their association. Healthy officers are less likely to become injured on the job and may recover faster, than an officer that is not physically fit. All public safety administrators must implement mandatory agility testing for their officers and develop continued strategies to improve fitness programs. Continued fitness evaluations are necessary in order to determine if the programs are effective. Maintaining adequate physical fitness also reduces injury, medical leave, and minimizes liability lawsuits.

It is imperative that mandatory bi-annual physical fitness programs be adopted by all public safety organizations nationwide, at the federal, state, local, and tribal level. Public safety administrators must consider various options when selecting an appropriate physical fitness training program. Trial fitness programs are ideal. Trial fitness programs will provide critical information if adjustments and improvements need to occur. Public safety administrators that want to implement a physical fitness program must use collaboration, networking, performance measurement, team-building, and shared- vision to achieve goals. It is essential that mandatory physical fitness programs are measured to determine the validity and reliability. This is beneficial for the officer and agency. Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test will open doors for continued research nationwide while identifying officers that are a liability and health risk Fitness testing is a cost effective method for the department in order to reduce workers compensation claims and other liability risks. Also, having an accessible work out facility for officers is essential. Many officers lack the motivation to train after work because they are extremely tired. However, having a place to exercise at work will become contagious to other agencies that have similar problems with non-conditioned officers. Officers are observational individuals by the nature of their jobs. If officers sense that having a workout facility on the job is beneficial, then other officers will follow their peers. This method is effective and is a key strategy in changing the organizations culture. Executive officers that want to implement a mandatory physical fitness test could use logic models in order to determine if a health program is necessary. Executives should meet with other senior officials to conduct trial and mock fitness programs before considering writing policy. Once a determination is made, then policy could be set. The basic premise for implementing mandatory fitness test is fishing for ideas and gaining input from the participants as well. There is no perfect strategy or systematic process in order to achieve maximum results. Every executive should collaborate with their members in order to obtain constructive feedback. The end result is having healthier officers and for the community to observe it.

Physical, Psychological, and Emotional

Physical Fitness and Obesity

It is essential that all public safety officers be in excellent physical condition in order to stay healthy and perform job-related tasks. Mandatory physical fitness test sets the stage for officers to maintain a healthy lifestyle on and off duty. Incorporating high-intensity interval and compound multi-planar movements into a fitness regimen improve the officer’s physical capabilities. Mandatory physical fitness testing will require the officer to prove they are able to walk, run, climb, jump, squat, leap, stretch, bend, twist, lift, carry, drag, and push. Moderate weight training and aerobic exercise may be appropriate to accomplish these tasks. Also, officers must monitor their cardiovascular health. Maintaining physical fitness will help reduce heart disease, which is the number one killer of law enforcement officers. Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test is beneficial in terms of obesity reduction. The fastest way to curb the obesity problem among officers nationwide is to implement weight standards. Choosing a weight standard for officers to maintain will eliminate overweight officers and discourage officers from becoming obese. Another component that is useful concerning physical fitness is having continued health education for officers during in-service training. Educating officers about health risks is a proactive measure to ensure that the agency is placing qualified officers in the field. Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test benefits the officer by keeping them accountable. Officers that are held accountable will physically and mentally prepare themselves for meeting departmental health criteria. Officers that stay physically fit and avoid obesity problems must be rewarded for their sacrifice to stay healthy. Officers that are obese also may suffer psychologically and emotionally. Officers that are overweight may feel inferior to their peers that are in shape and could hinder job performance. In popular culture, overweight officers are continuously mocked for being obese. Mandatory bi-annual fitness testing and weight standards will curb the number of obese officers and eventually change the public’s perception.

Psychologically

Mandatory annual physical fitness test is useful to the officer for mental health purposes. Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test will assess the officer’s mood during strenuous activity. It is imperative that peace officers remain in a stable mood while on duty. There is a relationship between physical activity and mood. Some officers suffer silently with mental health issues with fears of seeking professional services. Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test allow the fitness instructors to monitor signs of mental health problems and assist the officer with pursuing appropriate treatment. Seeking appropriate treatment is helpful in order for the officer to reduce distractions. Although there is no singular strategy to resolve mental health issues, seeking guidance from a mental health professional is wise. Mandatory physical fitness test is a starting point to begin the discussion of wellness. Public safety administrators must obtain the appropriate training in order to get fresh ideas and strategies. Also, public safety administrators must use collaboration strategies to determine if their suggestions are useful. Law enforcement executives would benefit from hiring a licensed psychologist to give lectures on how poor physical condition impacts mental health status. This may encourage officers that are struggling with mental health issues to seek professional help in order to increase job performance. It literally is a win for the department and the officer.

Emotional/Internal Confidence

Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test serves as a coping strategy. Exercise reduces clinical depression and anxiety. Exercise is an excellent coping strategy. Exercise releases neurotransmitters and endorphins. Exercise also reduces immune system chemicals and increase body temperature which has relaxing properties. For example, some test is designed to enhance anaerobic power, cardiovascular endurance, muscular endurance, abdominal endurance and leg explosive power. These exercises disseminate good chemicals that cause the officer to feel emotionally stable. Mandatory fitness test increase confidence, focus, and precision. Officers must feel confident internally to reduce the chances of clinical depression. Exercise is a tool that can increase self-esteem. Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test will assist with stabilizing emotions, mood, and internal confidence. Officer confidence is essential when making tough decisions concerning protecting life and property. Internal confidence places the officer in the proper mind frame to serve the community. Physical fitness contributes to this. Public safety administrators must strategize and develop new ideas that will increase internal confidence. Officers that feel better physically are able to take on new challenges and strengthen the organization’s reputation. Mandating physical fitness test must be considered for the sake of emotional and internal health.

Beneficial outcomes for public safety agencies

Public safety organizations benefit from having a mandatory bi-annual physical fitness program. The long-term financial benefit is worthwhile. Public safety organizations also pay unexpected healthcare cost related to officer injury, sickness, and disease. Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test assists with reducing health care cost at the federal, state, and local, level. Monitoring health trends can reduce financial expenses and save money. The aim is to find solutions to reduce workers compensation claims and maintain a healthy organization. Long term financial savings may open new, innovative opportunities to reduce injury, reduce debt, allocate resources, and develop mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test nationwide. Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test assist with establishing a high retention rate and reducing absenteeism. High absenteeism rates are expensive and can disrupt public safety operations. Also, mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test reduce liability and injury. Careless mistakes from out of shape officers can cost their agencies millions of dollars in lawsuits and legal expenses. Mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test will help identify officers that are a departmental liability. Preventable health risks must be explored by public safety administrators. Risks include poor diet, alcoholism, drugs, smoking, obesity, stress, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Public safety administrators must use standard communication including electronic mail, memorandums, records, and forms to communicate information to their employees concerning health and safety. There must be clarity in the communication process. These strategies lead to beneficial outcomes for public safety organizations. Executive officers should use the media to promote health for law enforcement professionals. Sparking a national trend towards health is a positive for the agency. It gives the agency recognition and sets a benchmark for others to follow. The positive outcomes for taking a serious stand against poor health are enormous and could open avenues for monetary support from federal, state, and local governments.

National and International Perspectives

Public safety officers and their organization are watched carefully by the national and the international community. It is essential that officers maintain an acceptable level of fitness to avoid sharp criticisms in the area of fitness and health. Being in excellent physical condition shows society that sworn officers take their jobs seriously on and off duty. Public safety organizations must be exceptional in service and physically fit for duty. Gaining respect from the national and the international community is beneficial in terms of community policing, solving crimes, building partnerships, community participation, and external relations. Public safety organizations that promote health and wellness send positive messages across the globe. Public safety administrators must monitor national and international health trends in order to provide officers with current information concerning physical fitness and health. Staying informed sends positive messages to the national and the international community that public safety organizations value their careers and the services provided. Public safety officers must be above reproach and set the standard of goodness, morals, and values. Changing the stereotypical culture of corruption is a key component in order to satisfy the general community. There must be a joint effort between community leaders, civil rights organizations, religious institutions, and political system to achieve goals. However, no single public safety organizations can accomplish this task alone. There must be a national and international push to convey the message of respect and change. Physical fitness has no international boundaries. All people that serve and protect their nation must feel confident while doing so. Law enforcement executives in the United States can benefit from international strategies and vice versa. In all, the main goal for public safety organizations is to ensure officer safety and provide exceptional services.

Conclusion

Therefore, public safety officers should be required to pass a mandatory bi-annual physical fitness test, in order to prove they are healthy enough to perform job-related tasks. Physical fitness standards must not be compromised. Public safety organizations nationwide must implement bi-annual physical fitness test, because it benefits the public safety officer, public safety agency, and society as a whole.

Biography
Originally from Rockaway Beach New York, Jevon Thompson is a nine year veteran police officer. His training and experience has given him a clear insight on public safety and health issues. Jevon’s commitment to health and wellness is an essential factor in order for him to provide excellent community services. Jevon’s passion for writing and research has assisted him with pursuing a Masters of Public Administration while enjoying family and friends.