It’s A Numbers Game

April 21st, 2015: 2300 hours

In my previous post, I called out law enforcement officers across the country. Physical fitness is the single-greatest contributor to our success; composure, creativity, and mental toughness are all dependent on physical fitness. Integrity is the absolute most important characteristic of a quality peace officer, but if we polled LEOs nationwide on the top traits of successful officers, those other  three would be toward the top of any list. There are 1,001 qualities of a good officer (hence the difficulty of this job), but all of them come back to physical fitness. If you can control your body, push it to the limit, and be faster, stronger, for longer than the suspect, then you can have the confidence needed to perform with excellence otherwise. You can’t think, drive, or fight, if you can’t breathe.

Let’s look at some facts:

  • The generally used standard in physical fitness testing is done by the Cooper Institute. In Iowa, where I am an officer, hiring requires you meet the 40th percentile of the standards. That means that you have to exceed the physical capabilities of 40% of the people in your age group. To graduate the ILEA, you have to meet the 50% mark. (Cooper Standards here).
  • The average age of arrestees nationwide is 26-27 (FBI Report – page 58).
  • Offenders “size up” officers based on physical appearance and use that as a leading factor in the decision to resist arrest (Police Chief Magazine).
  • The average LEOs physical fitness is lower than half of the general population in these categories: aerobic fitness, body fat, and abdominal strength and average in upper body strength and lower-back flexibility (Police Chief Magazine).
  • “As a group, law enforcement officers have a greater morbidity and mortality rate than the general public, due mostly to cardiovascular disease, colon cancer, and suicide. Recent studies have shown an annual increase in the frequency and severity of cardiovascular incidences among law enforcement personnel. The risk of having a heart attack doubles with each decade of law enforcement service” – Police Chief Magazine (Wow.)

I can keep going. There is no shortage of articles, including denser, more scientific, and harder to read sources, from professors and graduate students at prestigious universities. The point is clear — we are, as a profession, weak, sick, fat, and have to be stronger, faster, for longer, than anyone at a moment’s notice.

Look at that link to the Cooper Standards. Seriously, please do it.

I posted the average age of arrestee as being 26-27. That means that we all need to be meeting the standards of that age group — and not the asinine 40th percentile either. We all need to be shooting for at least the 70th percentile. 90th is obviously preferred, but I’m a realist. How do we get there?

The first step is implementing physical wellness programs at every singe law enforcement agency in the country.

Every. Single. One.

Whether incentives or sanctions work better is material for another post, but this needs to happen —  yesterday. Officers need to hold each other accountable on the street. There is no reason we shouldn’t hold each other accountable in the weight-room, on the track, in the pool, or wherever. The benefits are numerous — ranging from meeting the physical demands of the street to morale and emotional health and many,many others (Fiedler – DOJ, Calea, Google).

I cannot think of a single valid reason that physical fitness isn’t a priority in the information age of policing. It comes down to changing the culture. It needs to change, right now.

My workout for 4/20/15:

  • 5 sets 5 reps: Front Squat – 185 lbs
  • 5 sets 5 reps: Bench Press – 155 lbs
  • 5 sets 5 reps: Bent-Over Row – 135 lbs
  • 3 sets 1 min: Farmer’s Carry – 70 lb kettle-bell each hand

My workout for 4/21/15:

  • 8 rounds for time: 4 deadlifts – 155 lbs, 4 body-weight ring rows, 4 over-the-bar burpees.
  • My time: 4:58

Quote of the day:

“The individual who says it is not possible should move out of the way of those doing it.” – Tricia Cunningham

Upcoming post: Nutrition – Tools, Tips, and Apps You Can Use to Eat and Feel Better.

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Inaugural Post – Korte is in Session

April 16th, 2015: 0400 hours

The single greatest crisis facing law enforcement today is physical fitness.

You read that right. Read it again if you need to.

We have a lot going against us these days – the media, negligent behavior by less than 1% of LEOs, our frequent flyers – but, each one of these comes back to physical fitness. We are America’s fighting force — the main line of defense protecting our communities from each douchebag, terrorist, and psychopath. We are called on to solve every problem known to man, whether or not our personal knowledge or skills have any relevance. Policing was once defined to me in college as “something is happening, which ought not be happening, and someone needs to do something about it – NOW! (Brian Monahan – Policing in Society)”. From flat tires, to out-of-control seven-year-olds (I shit you not), to burglaries and murders, citizens call us to help them with the worst situations of their lives. What use are we if we don’t have physical fitness?

From helping an injured person on the ground to chasing a suspect on foot and wrestling him. From driving in a pursuit to winning a gunfight. From simply carrying stolen property back to an owner to helping someone change a tire. Everything we are called on to do in this career requires a baseline of physical fitness, but the baseline isn’t good enough — winning requires more. The problem is that there are too many of us that don’t even reach the unacceptable baseline. I have decided that I refuse to be a liability to anyone because of my physical fitness. You cannot be too fit; always strive to be better.

Let’s do a quick experiment:

Just Google image search “overweight cop.” Go ahead, this is important.

Embarrassed? It gets worse. Type in “fat cop.” There are so many hits that it suggests categories at the top ranging from “eating donuts” to “should I run.” If you are a LEO and aren’t embarrassed yet, check your pulse.

I’m embarrassed for my profession, my department, and myself. I’m just as guilty as everyone else. After the academy, I quit running. I rode around in a car for twelve hours at a time and scoffed at the idea of getting out on foot for any reason. Building checks? No. Foot patrol? Ha. Get another Mountain Dew? Well, maybe I could get out of the car now and then.

I’m overweight. Scratch that, I’m fat. I’m exactly what embarrasses me and disgusts me about the Thin Blue Line. So I’m calling for change – for myself and any of my brothers and sisters like me. It starts here and now. I will post my journey back to physical fitness. I will post motivation, tips, and information for everyone struggling like me. We can get through this shit-storm together. With all of the other pressures facing us right now, we need a positive place to improve ourselves. We need a safe place to fight the toughest battle this profession faces. This is the place and now is the time.

My workout for 4/15/2015:

5 sets 5 reps: Front Squat – 175 lbs

5 sets 5 reps: Bench Press – 145 lbs

5 sets 5 reps: Bent-Over Barbell Row – 125 lbs.

3 sets 1 minute: Farmer’s Carry – 53 lb kettlebells

Quote of the day:

“Train like your life depends on it – because it does” – Unknown