From Arkansas Online:
The Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police said it will begin negotiations with the city next month to determine if passing a fitness test will be a condition of employment for Little Rock police.
That doesn’t sound too demanding, right? Think again!
From Arkansas Online:
The negotiations come after union leaders asked the city to halt the enforcement of a directive sent out by Little Rock Police Chief Kenton Buckner in May that would’ve required all sworn officers to pass a fitness test.
All sworn officers of the department already take the Annual Minimum Skills Assessment test each year during the annual in-service training, said John Gilchrist, vice president of the police union and an officer in the Police Department’s training division. If an officer does not pass the test, he cannot work off-duty or ask for a transfer to another assignment, Gilchrist said.
The directive, sent out by Buckner on May 19, said that in 2014, 22 sworn members of the department failed the annual test. In response, the memo said, “all sworn members of the department are required to successfully complete the assessment.”
The memo said anyone who failed the test “shall be relieved of duty by the Training Division Commander or his designee.” The directive detailed a plan for anyone who fails the test that includes two chances to retake the test before “possibly employment separation proceedings will be commenced.
Gilchrist said most of the complaints from the members of the Police Department were not about being required to pass the fitness test but about the rules being changed, especially for people who have been on the job for decades.
McCauley said the group is just trying to stand up for the contract the city negotiated with police.
“Why do they give us a contract if they don’t want to follow it?” he asked.
In recent years, the department switched from a test based on standards from the Cooper Institute in Dallas, which used timed 1.5-mile runs, push-ups and other exercises to test levels of fitness, to a test that requires officers to jump over fences and drag a 150-pound dummy.
“What happened was over the years people started to question the validity of how that [the Cooper test] actually applied to the work,” Gilchrist said, adding that push-ups are never required when an officer is chasing a suspect.
It’s true that push-ups aren’t required for officers when chasing a suspect, but upper body strength might come in handy when the officer actually catches up with the suspect and has to physically confront him or her. I’d imagine a certain level of upper body strength is required to do that properly.
More from Arkansas Online:
Gilchrist said a lot of officers belong to gyms and that exercise equipment is provided at each patrol division, training division and the FOP has its own gym as well.
“You have to take the initiative and be dedicated enough to know you’re in a job that requires a certain level of physical fitness,” Gilchrist said.
In a phone interview with The Arkansas Project, Gilchrist said again that upper body strength exercises like push-ups weren’t that applicable to police work.
In the old test where you ran a mile and a half and did all these push-ups. You go into (negotiations) and ask when was the last time you had to run a mile and a half in this job? When was the last time you chased somebody and had to go down and give me 50 (push-ups)? They just didn’t apply to your job. It did give you a measurement of your fitness level, but it didn’t apply (to the job).
Some Little Rock cops don’t think endurance and upper body strength are beneficial for their jobs. Makes me feel safe!
Gilchrist also said:
I think the biggest complaint from a very small faction of people but that small faction of people belong to our organization (is) when we hired on this was not the standard for our continued employment. (Is the LRPD) going to implement this without giving us a period of time to get back into shape or compensate us for our time necessary to get to the level (of fitness) you want us to get to..those are the kind of things they want us to negotiate.
Translation: taxpayers should pay us extra to achieve the minimum level of fitness required to do our jobs.
Gilchrist also said:
It is typically people who are older than 50. It has sometimes to do with a number of women that typically lack upper body strength. It’s not that they can’t complete the obstacles (fitness test)…they just can’t do it in the amount of time that we set for the test, which is 2 minutes and 3 seconds.
So: upper body strength exercises like push-ups don’t apply to their jobs, according to Gilchrist. However, some women can’t pass fitness tests, because they lack upper-body strength!
The Little Rock Police Department’s primary goal is not to serve as a jobs program. Criminals do not typically adjust their use of force based on a street-level affirmative-action review. I don’t think it’s too much to ask to require a minimum set of physical fitness standards in order to be employed with the LRPD. If you’re getting too old to do the job or you can’t pass a minimum fitness test, I’d say it’s time to look for new work.