A criminal justice review panel at Kansas’ Wichita State University recently sent out a recommendation to ease fitness requirements for law enforcement recruits. The recommendation comes as local agencies consider fitness changes in hopes of increasing the number of potential recruits.
Sedgwick County Jail has already incorporated a change to its qualifications, allowing detention deputy recruits an additional 10 seconds to complete the agility drills testing. Recruits will now have 80 seconds to complete the drills instead of the previous time of 70 seconds. The change has been in effect for two months and according to Sgt. Dave Hein, the quality of applicants has not been significantly affected. “My personal observation is they were right. The demographics that we’re getting to pass that is not significantly different than what we were getting at 70 seconds,” said Hein. He added that candidates that were extremely out of shape would still be unable to pass the drills regardless of the additional time allotment.
Hein began to question the fitness standards for recruits while processing them for the Wichita-Sedgwick County Law Enforcement Training Academy. After inquiring why certain agility tests were required, he was told that was just how it was always done.
Hein launched a study at his facility to determine the job demands of patrol and detention deputies. Volunteers participated in an interview process and wore accelerometers to measure how much a deputy was walking or running while on duty. The results showed detention deputies walked an average of two miles a day while patrol deputies walked an average of 4.7 miles.
According to Hein, the need to climb five-foot walls or jump through windows is virtually non-existent within real-world scenarios and these obstacles will eventually be removed from the training program as well. Additional changes may be implemented once the final report is issued by the university review panel.