What is the role of health in policing?
Should our police be required to be fit not only mentally and morally, but also physically?
Looking at the national data regarding deaths of police officers, they are in greater danger of a heart attack, debilitating effects of diabetes, and traffic accidents (many still do not wear seatbelts) than from the actions of criminals with guns.
Read what Chief Masterson has to say about the cardiac fitness program in Boise:
The program originally included only firefighters, but was expanded in 2013 to include two Boise area police departments—and it’s already making a difference.During the first weeks of the study, a 39-year-old BPD officer was identified as having major arterial blockage in the heart, which was discovered during the annual exercise cardiac stress testing (continuous EKG while running on a treadmill) that was made available to all officers at no cost as part of the study.
The discovery led to immediate bypass surgery to repair the arteries, which were estimated to be 80 and 95 percent blocked. A month later, a second officer in his early 40s, prompted to take the cardiac stress test by his coworker’s experience, found he had a similar condition.
One simple test saved two lives in one month in a police agency of 300 sworn officers. Other tests in the study have proven benefits, as well—just a few weeks ago, an officer learned of a “hole” in his heart through the calcium screen and further medical tests are being conducted. Education, nutrition, exercise, and healthy lifestyle choices are just as important for officer safety as tactical and firearms training. Still, programs that emphasize the need for wellness and a healthy lifestyle have gone by the wayside in many departments.
It is encouraging, however, that the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has taken note of the large number of officers dying of heart disease and is reviving discussion on the issue…
In the British Army, if you do not pass the fitness test every year, they put you on a warning order for a specific time period. From what I had heard a long time ago, Japanese workers go have a 1 hour of exercise before they go to work. In the Japanese police, they practice Kenpo every day and many of those cops go on to become martial art experts themselves. I bet you that some of the older Japanese police officers who look like they are heavyweight could still outfight even our skinnier, younger cops.
People like to talk about how you can “improve” policing. In my personal opinion it is actually VERY simple. Institute a PT test that is mandatory to pass to remain employed every quarter. The second is to have the legislation put their money where their mouth is. Make it mandatory for all LE agencies to provide DT training on a monthly basis instead of 8 hours of DT a YEAR. Most use of force situations that end up as a viral YouTube video, aren’t because of excessive force. They tend to be officers who use innefective force, which allows the situation to continue to escalate. Skilled officers are usually able to quickly and decisively take control of the situation and get the suspect into custody. One really violent (feeling) takedown that stuns a suspect and takes away the desire to fight is always going to be more effective than playing patty cake over a failed armbar attempt and then stumbling around trying to get a suspect into cuffs and having to steadily increase the force up to and including lethal force.
Of course actually providing training is expensive. Most agencies are understaffed and under paid. If Americans want better law enforcement they have to be willing to PAY for it in the form of enough bodies to be able to provide frequent training and still have staffing on the road. Personally I don’t think it will ever happen, but one can hope. See more…