Reader poll: 72% work at agencies that don’t allow on-duty workouts

It’s important that cops stay physically fit, both to do the job to the best of their abilities and for their long-term health


This information comes from recent PoliceOne polls. Polls are updated on the P1 homepage each month and open to all P1 readers. Make your voice heard HERE in our latest poll.

Each year, heart attacks are among the top killers of law enforcement officers. In recognition of American Heart Month, which takes place every February and is intended to raise awareness of heart disease and ways to combat it, we asked our readers several questions about their physical fitness. Are police agencies doing the most they can to help officers stay physically healthy on the job? The answer is complicated. Here are the results:

 
 
 
 

As you can see, most police officers who answered the poll questions aren’t required to undergo an annual physical fitness test (80%) and do not get the opportunity to work out while on duty (72%). Yet a majority of officers (80%) believe they should have to undergo periodic physical fitness evaluations. Forty-three percent of officers believe they are in shape, with an additional 23% believing they are fairly fit, but not quite at the level needed to accomplish all of the skills required of them.

Here’s what our readers thought about the issues surrounding physical fitness at police agencies:

“I’m long since retired but I really thought agencies were moving in the direction of requiring officers to maintain a certain level of physical fitness,” George Earl wrote. “As I travel around it’s apparent that trend has not continued. I have not researched this issue but I’m guessing part of the problem is the recruiting of new officers. It appears many departments face a real challenge in getting new recruits, therefore they reduce their physical requirements. I’m sure the officers that don’t appear to fit the image of what we might expect are good people with the desire to serve and protect. In most cases, they will be able to perform their duty and I commend them for their service. I pray for their safety.”

It’s just not a potential recruitment issue. Tim Theodorou wrote that his agency doesn’t have the money to implement a PT program:

“Many PDs cannot afford to have a PT program. In Ohio, OPOTA has PT standards to be commissioned, but after that, it’s up to each PD, which makes it useless. Yeah, being unfit can cost money in terms of injuries and stuff but to keep fit also costs money.”

Johnathan Mewborn, who works at an agency that does require an annual test, thinks workout time should be a part of such a requirement: “Since it's a requirement that could potentially cost somebody their job, I think we should be allotted so much time on the clock to go to the gym.”

Christopher Jones believes if agencies can’t provide time on duty to work out, they should at least offer some sort of compensation for officers’ off-duty work to stay fit.

James Hunterjg argues that while some agencies may not require a physical fitness test annually, they do often cultivate an environment that encourages cops to stay fit:

“They breed a positive atmosphere to maintain fitness by having a gym, paying officers for entry fees in local runs, running teams and giving officers a day off each time they pass a bi-annual PT that mirrors the academy’s. After a 20-year career, you could earn 40 additional days off – no brainer!”

According to reader Jessica Miller, her agency has a test that new recruits have to pass, but it isn’t a requirement for veteran LEOs.

For the cops who work at agencies that do allow workout time, most said it was during their lunch break.

What are you doing to stay physically fit? Tell us in the comments and check out the following articles to keep your heart and the rest of your body fit and ready for duty:

How to maintain adequate LEO physical fitness

4 essential elements to the perfect police workout routine

The 11 components of proper police fitness

7 easy ways cops can eat healthier on duty

The 4 pillars of LE fitness and wellness

No spit in this food: 4 great on-duty meals cops can bring from home

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