Dear Departments: Fix our Fitness

I’m baffled by the number of cops that disagree with this or defend any form of the idea that it’s ok to not be the best versions of ourselves when serving in the capacity of a law enforcement officer. I posted the following on social media and couldn’t believe the pushback:

“Well, I don’t know about once a month. Maybe once a year. MAYBE once a quarter.” 

“Well, we already have a hard enough time keeping officers…”

What? Do you want to keep officers that aren’t interested in being their best? Do you want an officer that would be incapable of dragging you to safety under fire? Do you want to work in conditions that allow you to go unchecked at a moment’s notice of your readiness levels? 

Earlier this year (2022) in Dearborn, MI officers spotted a man setting fire to a mosque. It turns out he was dressed in body armor and armed with a firearm which he used to begin firing at the police (see video at end of post).

The officer subsequently had to pursue the man behind the cover of three patrol vehicles for about one and a half miles. Thankfully the good guys went home and the threat neutralized. One cop on scene, Maggy, said this after the incident,

“we had a critical incident Friday night that was both terrifying and motivating. The job I do honestly doesn’t allow for lackadaisical complacency. Friday was a rude awakening that every day I don’t stay fit is a day that I could be putting myself and my partners in a position where I am just one more person they’re accountable for – and I don’t want to be that ever. I want to always be a part of the team w my guys and girls – brothers and sisters in blue…. I am proud of my team and my job… and I will continue to try to better myself physically so I am always someone to be counted on, not a liability.”

So let me ask you this: If you had to spontaneously move for 1.5 miles between cover in a gun battle, are you physically ready for that task? Does your department regularly train to the expectations that you could, even though your entire community rightfully demands that of you? 

Instead of all the excuses we could make for why we currently do not demand such levels of physical preparedness among most law enforcement agencies, how about we start thinking of how we can make it happen and create some new norms across the profession? What do we have to lose by returning to higher standards among officers who should consider themselves tactical athletes, because that’s exactly what they are.

I get it, police administration very often is the obstacle to growth and development as they not only allow political pressure to drive their so-called leadership but it’s just easier to fall back on “the way we’ve always done it.” But it’s not just admin from one side, it’s very often police unions on the other justifying laziness and weakness for the very same reasons!

All we can do as patrolman or low level leadership on the road is to begin to lobby for change. We first must demand the best from ourselves even when no one else does. After all, isn’t that the kind of character required to be the best cop possible? Isn’t that what your family should expect from you? 

But how Mike? 

Easy. Like any other training position in a department, you take someone both interested and capable in the strength/conditioning world. Equip them for programming and provide an opportunity ON SHIFT to train. But but but….

Forget the buts. How are we gonna not “but” firearm training (which we also don’t get enough of) even though physical fitness is the basis for almost all enforcement activity involving resisting subjects and tactical situations?

Each month, a simple test (even pushups, pull-ups, sprints will do) can ensure that officers are maintaining the appropriate level of commitment to the programming.

Is it that simple? Yes. Easy to make the changes? No, because of all the forces internal and external that will want you to cave to the limitless amount of excuses we can make.  

It may not be a one sized all program for every department but we can no longer ignore the dangerous amount of cops that are struggling with obesity, lack of effective training and an overall burnt out lazy approach. Additionally, increasing one’s level of fitness is also connected strongly to mental health and can raise performance levels across the board.

At the end of the day, we are here because we led ourselves here. If we want to head a different direction we have to start taking action. While you lobby for change, there are dummy proof options out there like Effective Fitness, which is changing the game for tactical athletes, particularly cops, by doing the programming for them to at least own their own conditions, even if admin doesn’t care. I definitely commend them to you so be sure to check them out-->EFFECTIVE FITNESS

If you’re not where you want to be in any aspect of your life, it’s because you’ve chosen that, not because of someone else. The more cops that take ownership of their strength and conditioning for the job the more the influence will spread. Don’t want for someone else to do the work for you.

To any police administration types reading this: DO YOUR JOB and help fix this issue. Stop worrying about your reputation, your pension and your future side hustles when collecting a retirement. Both your officers and your community deserve better than your ambivalence and excuses.  

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