Law enforcement agencies emphasize officer fitness

Law enforcement agencies emphasize officer fitness

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"Someone may take off running and you have to go from sitting in a car to jumping out taking off running, and you have to be in shape for that," said Maryville Police Officer Kevin Fuller. "Someone may take off running and you have to go from sitting in a car to jumping out taking off running, and you have to be in shape for that," said Maryville Police Officer Kevin Fuller.
"It's both dangerous for the officers and the general public if they can't perform," Capt. David Graves said. "It's both dangerous for the officers and the general public if they can't perform," Capt. David Graves said.

By STEPHANIE BEECKEN
6 News Reporter

MARYVILLE (WATE) - An internal memo from the Jellico City Council earlier in the week has raised questions about overweight officers on the police force. The memo says overweight officers could make the city susceptible to workers' compensation claims.

Other law enforcement agencies emphasize physical fitness for their officers.

Almost everyday before work you will find Maryville Police Officer Kevin Fuller working out at the gym. He is in a workout room provided by the city for employees to use.

Fuller says he has to stay fit for his job.

"Someone may take off running and you have to go from sitting in a car to jumping out taking off running, and you have to be in shape for that," said Fuller.

Capt. David Graves says he monitors the patrol officers on a daily basis to make sure they are able to perform their job, from pushing a car out of the roadway to chasing a suspect.

"Usually [our job is] slow, but when you need it it's full force with extreme exertion. That's what causes a lot of heart attacks and we've found that to be a problem with police officers. That's why we encourage the officers to get in here to make sure they have the good cardio exercises," said Capt. Graves.

Graves says even though the city does not have an annual fitness test like running a couple miles or maxing out on bench press, if an officer can't perform certain tasks he or she could get kicked off the force.

"It's both dangerous for the officers and the general public if they can't perform," Graves said.

Capt. Graves says termination only comes after counseling and additional training to help the officer get back in shape so they can do their job. In fact, he has never had to fire anyone for becoming unhealthy.

At the Knox County Sheriff's Office, fitness courses and counseling are also provided to deputies.

Sgt. Philip Dalton says deputies are evaluated each year.

"Some of the things we look at during those evaluations is how you present yourself, how you look in the uniform," said Sgt. Dalton.

If counseling and training doesn't help Dalton says the deputy isn't fired but the patrol officer's position will be switched.

But for Kevin Fuller, the encouragement to stay physically fit is easy to find.

"Especially with our profession, you have to stay in shape because you never know from day to day, from minute to minute, what's going to happen," said Fuller

There are no state guidelines for law enforcement to maintain a certain physical standard. Some departments in Tennessee offer incentives like a day or two off if the officer passes a physical fitness test.

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