I’ve long believed that being physically fit helped save my life. In April, 2013, I was shot responding to Watertown to back up officers involved in the takedown of the Boston Marathon bombers. I bled out on the street, arrived at the hospital in cardiac arrest, and very nearly died. The COPS Office recently published a study that reaffirms this for me and talks to some of the programs departments around the country have put in place to support police officer fitness.
Before I was wounded in the line of duty, my department had a high-quality fitness program, where officers could work out in the department gym for one hour on shift, depending on the situation. I took advantage of this program which allowed me stay in shape when I worked long hours, and helped relieve some stress and refresh me during my shift. It also built some camaraderie and competition when the annual (optional) fitness test came around.
This study just came out that highlights some other agencies that have implemented physical fitness and wellness programs. I believe it is just a start, but outlines some programs that should be incorporated nationwide to support officers ahead of on or off-duty injuries. Some of the details include:
Boca Raton Police Department:
- 3-hour on duty physical fitness program
- Anecdotally noted that program has positively impacted recruitment and retention
- Organization needs current and next-generation leaders who are physically and emotionally fit and healthy in order to carry on the mission and meet the ever-expanding demands of law enforcement
Fairfax County Police Department
- The department had “difficulty finding model officer safety programs in law enforcement”
- Injured officers could get assistance from an athletic trainer for referrals and monitoring
These programs aren’t without challenges, but are certainly a step in the right direction!
Link to the study: https://ric-zai-inc.com/Publications/cops-p332-pub.pdf