Lt. Warren Wilson uses a treadmill and Officer Devon Horton rides an exercise bike in the Enid Police Department’s fitness center. Cass Rains | Enid News & Eagle ENID, Okla. — With a state-of-the-art fitness center and contractual incentives for officers, Enid Police Department is seeing more officers take interest in their health and physical
ENID, Okla. — With a state-of-the-art fitness center and contractual incentives for officers, Enid Police Department is seeing more officers take interest in their health and physical fitness.
More than 15 years ago, contracts for officers were changed to include physical agility testing with an incentive for officers. The change at that time also included the same testing for all applicants to the department.
Participation in the program was voluntary at first, but another contract change made participation in physical agility testing portion mandatory.
“Unless exempted by a recent injury or illness, all officers are required to participate in the annual test,” Jacobi said. He said officers have four opportunities to pass. Each test is scored on a points scale, with up to 25 points possible for each test. Officers with scores of 90 or above qualify for 30 hours of leave or pay. Those with 75 points or more qualify for 20 hours of leave or pay. Those with scores below 75 do not qualify for the incentive.
From the top on down
Jacobi said Chief Brian O’Rourke and Capt. Bryan Skaggs do not qualify for the incentives due to their positions within the department, but the two often visit the fitness center.
“It’s not unusual to see them participate in the fitness test just as a show of support,” Jacobi said. “Everybody on the department, regardless of position or title, is allowed to use the fitness center.”
The physical agility testing standards were developed by Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research for law enforcement. The physical agility testing is comprised of four parts: running 1 mile under 10.5 minutes, 25 push-ups, 27 sit-ups in under a minute and a 300-meter run under 69 seconds.
A successful motivator
“Progressively, this (mandatory physical agility testing) has become a lot more successful. We had a great incentive in early 2000, but there really wasn’t a lot of participation,” Jacobi said. “Through a combination of the mandatory participation in the PT test and the option to use the last hour of your shift to exercise, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in health and fitness activity. It’s certainly been a motivator.”
In 2004, when participation in the physical agility testing was voluntary, less than a dozen officers qualified for one of the two incentives. Ten years later, when testing was mandatory, nearly half of the force received an incentive due to testing success.
“In 2004, there were 10 officers that took the test and received an incentive,” Jacobi said. “Ten years later, and one year after we allowed officers to exercise on duty, 41 officers passed the test. That represents almost half of the 84 officers employed at that time.”
He said last year, 92 officers participated in the program, with 48 of those qualifying for an incentive. Jacobi said staffing was higher in 2018 compared to 2017, but the number of officers who qualified for an incentive increased.
“When we recruit new officers, we require them to work out the last hour of their shift,” the captain said. “While in their training phase, we require them to use that last hour of their shift working out in the gym. Our intention in doing so is to acclimate them to using the facility and reinforce the importance of fitness.”
If you build it …
In 2011, Enid Police Department finished remodeling a portion of the department. The changes included adding a gym in what was once an indoor garage.
The department’s state-of-the-art, 5,740-square-foot facility features a full set of free weights, spin bikes, an elliptical machine, leg press, shoulder press, functional trainer, leg curl and extension machine and an abdominal and lower-back exercise machine.
“When we were looking at what to do with that space, it was decided we needed a fitness area,” O’Rourke said. “Fitness is important to me and to the overall health of the department.
“Officer and civilian, alike, and spouses, are able to utilize this asset. In the past few years, I believe the fitness of the department overall has improved,” the chief said. “We have had many outside agencies come in for training in the adjacent classroom, and they are surprised to see that type of facility in a police department, and they are pretty envious of what we have.”
“On average, more than half our officers take advantage of the ability to work out during their shift,” Jacobi said. “We feel like it has improved the overall health of the department. It helps to keep our on-duty injuries to a minimum.
“I think we are one of the rare employers in town that provide a fitness center and time to work out,” he said. “We are also one of the few who offer pay or time off to those who participate and succeed.”
Exercise in scheduling
Officers may to use the last hour of their shifts to use the department’s fitness center, if the day’s call load allows.
“If the supervisor clears the officer, and their assignments are completed for the day, they are allowed to work out for the last hour of their shift,” Jacobi said.
He said the last hour of a shift was chosen because shifts overlap, and the oncoming patrol shift takes over the call load, allowing the outgoing shift to finish reports and any other work from the day.
“There is no loss in coverage of police services because it is all completed on the overlap,” he said.
Jacobi noted officers working out on the last hour of their shift are subject to recall for duty, if need be. He said working out the last hour of a shift does not apply to civilian employees.
“Before any employee can use the fitness center they have to attend training that overviews the proper use of the equipment, and they must sign a waiver,” he said. “It is open and available on a 24-hour basis to any off-duty employee of the police department.”
Benefit in the building
Lt. Warren Wilson said he uses the department’s fitness center four times a week.
“It’s a great benefit to have right here in the building,” he said. “It saves us on membership dues, and it’s clean and well-maintained. It also allows us to build better relationships, beyond our typical work environment.”
Sgt. Greg Bergdall said the fitness center has allowed him to rehab from neck and foot surgeries he’s had.
“It’s nice to have a place where you can work out with your colleagues,” he said.
“Working out during the last hour of the shift is a great way to burn off the stress of the day,” Detective Tanner Austin said. “It also helps me to keep in shape for my SWAT team obligations.”
Austin also said he appreciates the department’s incentives for staying in shape.
“We’re fortunate the department provides not only the time and equipment but also pays officers for their success.”
Fitness on fire
Enid Fire Department Fire Marshal Ken Helms said the department does not have an incentive program for firefighters, but each station has its own set of fitness equipment.
“All firefighters are provided an opportunity to work out,” Helms said.
He said the department received a grant to purchase the equipment and also provided certified fitness trainers on each of the department’s three shifts.
The facilities are available at all times to firefighters, but most use the 4-5 p.m. window for their workouts, once all assignments are completed. Helms said when the firefighters are working out they still are available for response to calls.