Get fit, in three years or less?

Get fit, in three years or less?

Everyone has been applauding Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree’s new Total Fitness Program that plans to promote a healthier, more physically fit sheriff’s office beginning next year.

Who doesn’t want healthier sheriff’s deputies?

One place to start could be barring them from smoking while on duty or working specials. There were so many deputies smoking at Arts in the Heart this year the county could make some extra scratch by selling sponsorship uniform badges to RJ Reynolds.

As far as being physically fit, it makes sense since some of these men and women have to race after criminals and protect the public at least five days a week. It’s nice to know Roundtree is trying to improve his department, one deputy at a time.

But the timeline in which Roundtree and the sheriff’s office is giving these officers to pump up their physical fitness seems pretty lenient.

In fact, most senior citizens could manage Roundtree’s standards within three years.

Basically, the sheriff’s office announced this week that it will begin testing all officers on a group of exercises including sit-ups, push-ups, bench presses, a mile run and a 300-meter sprint.

Apparently, the officers must complete the mile run in less than 12 minutes and the 300-meter run must be finished in less than 80 seconds. Deputies are also encouraged to finish at least 17 push-ups and 22 sit-ups in a minute. (Side note: We challenged three male employees at the Metro to drop and give us 17… the results were an average of 13.33 seconds with an average age of 36.)

If the officers fail the test, they are given until January 2017 to pass the standards.

Three years to shape up or ship out, right?

Not exactly.

If an officer is unable to pass the test, he or she will be subject to anything from a written reprimand to termination.

How many people really believe anyone is going to be terminated over this fitness program? Particularly, if they are given three years to comply and an alternative is to simply be transferred to a non-sworn position in the county?

Maybe the sheriff should consider strengthening his own fitness program.

But it appears physical fitness tests in Georgia aren’t very strict.

Surprise. Surprise.

For example, according to the DeKalb County police department, its officers must participate in five job-related exercises: a 440-yard distance run, sit-ups, push-ups, an obstacle course and a sit-and-reach flexibility test.

“The 440-yard distance run is a timed run which measures the heart and vascular systems’ capability to transport oxygen,” the DeKalb County Police Department states. “It is an important area for performing police tasks involving stamina and endurance and to minimize the risk of cardiovascular problems.”

Wisely, the DeKalb County’s score chart is broken down according to the officer’s age and sex.

For a male officer between the ages of 20-29, he is required to complete the 440-yard distance run in 1 minute and 20 seconds. A female in the same age group is required to finish the run in 1 minute and 35 seconds.

And what standard does DeKalb County require its male officers over the age of 40 to maintain in its 440-yard run? They must make that distance run in 1 minute and 41 seconds. A female officer over the age of 40 must make the same 440-yard distance run in at least 2 minutes and 1 second.

But DeKalb County’s obstacle course is the main challenge.

“The obstacle course involves running through a series of obstacles, crawling through a small opening, dragging a 110 lb. dummy, and scaling a five foot chain link fence using only hands and/or feet to scale fence, not rolling over a fence,” the DeKalb County police department states. “It is an important area for police tasks involving endurance, flexibility, strength, and balance.The score is measured in seconds.”

Dragging a 110-pound dummy through an obstacle course and scaling a 5-foot fence could be a bit of a challenge for some of our Richmond County officers. But in DeKalb County, all the officers hired on the department, whether they are 21 or 45 years old, must meet or exceed the minimum performance standards.

All in all, it’s good that Sheriff Roundtree is demanding his officers be more physically fit, but maybe he should think about giving them at the most 365 days to meet the minimum requirement.

Not three years.

That’s too long of a leash, unless the end result is actual termination.

Only then will officers take those three years seriously.


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