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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