Knightdale police introduce first in-house physical requirement

mhankerson@newsobserver.comJanuary 27, 2014 

— Police officers ran a newly implemented obstacle course last week that is meant to keep them in shape while on duty and in their everyday lives.

The course, which tests muscular and cardiovascular endurance, among other skills, is the first physical mandate the department has required officers to complete after their initial law enforcement training.

“Most agencies across the nation don’t have a physical mandate beyond basic academy,” Knightdale police Chief Jason Godwin said.

“We wanted to make sure all our officers maintained a level of fitness that not only aids them in their day-to-day job but will also help them in the long term life after the job itself,” he said.

After an 18-month implementation, last week’s course was the first mandated run. Six months ago, employees could run it voluntarily with no consequence. In July, employees who do not reach the minimum standard of finishing the course between 14 minutes and 40 seconds and 21 minutes and 59 seconds will be required to run the course every 45 days until the next mandated test.

Employees who don’t make the 14-minute goal will be required to run the course again every 45 days with a 25 percent improvement in time. By the time the next required testing date comes, they should be hitting the 14-minute mark, Godwin said.

The course is meant to mirror some of the physical skills officers may need to use in the field. It requires officers to complete a total of 40 push-ups and sit-ups, an exercise meant to test the muscular endurance in case there was every a physical struggle, Godwin said.

The course stretches about 550 yards – the same length of an average foot chase. The course requires officers to go up and down a flight of stairs three times, to simulate going to the third story of a building. Godwin said that every county in the state has at least one structure that is three stories high.

Most local police forces do not require a test like Knightdale’s, but Godwin said he thought it would be in the best interest of the officers and he plans to keep administering the test as long as he is with Knightdale.

He said long shifts and alternating schedules can wear officers down and he wants to make sure they are able to function outside their job as well.

“(We did this) mainly out of an affection for our personnel, making sure they maintain a quality of life now and in the future,” he said.

Hankerson: 919-829-4826; Twitter: @easternwakenews

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