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August 13, 2007
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Calif. deputies put to the test in first-ever "Sheriff's Challenge"

By Jennifer Gokhman
Inside Bay Area

ALAMEDA COUNTY, Calif. — Alameda County Sheriff Greg Ahern issued a challenge to his deputies —  a challenge of speed, fitness, endurance, skills and more.

It was the first-ever Sheriff's Challenge. Thirty-three deputies participated, split between Saturday and Sunday, on the course at the Regional Training Center near Santa Rita county jail in Dublin.

"It's important for law enforcement people to remain physically fit and practice skills," Ahern said. "It gives the fittest deputies an opportunity to show their talents and compete against one another."

Ahern put the course together based on job-related tasks that would each test something different, including speed, power, strength, fitness, tactics and firearm training.

The challenge included shooting targets, pushing a car up a road, driving through the Emergency Vehicle Operators Course, completing an obstacle course including dragging a 150-pound dummy, and finishing by running up and down a big hill.

"It was a fast, intense course -- harder than a triathlon," said Deputy Matt Becker.

While the running was no problem for him, the car push and the dummy drag were difficult. He finished the challenge in about 36 minutes.

The time it took to complete the course ranged from 32 to 56 minutes.

Ahern and his staff members encouraged the deputies along the way.

"It's nice to see everyone out there encouraging them," said Sgt. J.D. Nelson, public information officer. "They came on their own time."

Each deputy started after the one before had finished the shooting range portion as a safety precaution.

Each person had a different personal challenge. For some, it was the big hill, for others, dragging the dummy. Some breezed through the car push while others struggled.

Deputy Aaron Haskins seemed to use every muscle in his body to try to move the car, his legs straining and his tennis shoes sliding down on the ground. About 10 onlookers cheered him on, telling him he could do it, to keep on pushing.

Already tired from running and the car push, deputies ran to the obstacle course where they had to jump over a six-foot wall, go over and under hurdles, do a rope pull, carry tires, drag a 150-pound dummy and push another dummy in a wheelbarrow. Afterward, they had to tackle the big hill.

"It was hard as heck -- very challenging," said Deputy Brian Barker, who patrols at Eden Township Substation. "It was a good challenge for me."

He and others train continuously to keep in good shape because they are on the SWAT team.

"It was a great test," said Deputy Jon Morris, of Marine Patrol. "We did everything we do at one time. The sheriff thought everything through."

He said he was tired by the time he got to the weight pull and felt like stopping when he got to dragging the dummy. But, he pushed on through.

"I was proud of each and every competitor," Ahern said.

Copyright 2007 MediaNews Group, Inc. and ANG Newspapers
All Rights Reserved

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