Police officers have a stigma and stereotype of sitting in their police cars and eating donuts or unhealthy foods. The truth of this being that many Americans are obese and that when a small reflection of the population shows obesity it reflects poorly on the whole of society. The problem is not that someone is obese or overweight, but how does that affect their job as professional police officers. What type of implications does it bring on the public and the police officers when a police officer appears completely incompetent of accomplishing physical exercises? According to the regulations of Illinois Police academy to become an officer you need to perform a sit and reach test, benchpress, situps, and a 1.5 mile run to a certain standard depending on your age. The actual standards can be found here http://www.isp.state.il.us/employ/fitness.cfm. Is this an accurate way to gauge physical readiness as a police officer? I have personally struggled with my weight all my life and this scale seems very similar to the way the Army determines physical fitness, which I do not believe determines fitness at all. I definitely understand that with age come exceptions.
This brings me to my next point. If someone becomes a police officer what is the punishment for failing tests? Is it fair to fire someone only a few years from retirement because of some extra weight? What about stress and sickness that cause weight gain? On the other hand they must serve and protect the public and public view for police is constantly in question. The solution may be simpler than I thought. The London police have decided due to the high amount of obese police action needs to be taken. They decided to attack the one thing that is on most people’s minds. Payroll. The London police decided to take away pay of the officers if they failed 3 physical tests. The hope is not to fire the police for their weight but give them a serious reprimand and deter others from becoming obese. In the London police they only need to officially pass their physical fitness test once. And some never retested in as long as 35 years. When the Metropolitan police reported that 52% of their male officers were overweight red flags were set off. America is sadly not much better and as a leader in national obesity our police force is unfortunately stereotyped because its often true.
A great degree of care and tact needs to be used when dealing with these issues. Many people believe that those overweight and obese are discriminated against. This of course is meaningless if they can’t perform their job. However, if this person is physically more fit than others but carries more weight what is the actual issue?