Wyoming cops say fitness is important but measuring height isn’t the way to do it

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By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

Fitness is important to the law enforcement community, but significant disagreement surrounds how it is measured.

A controversial new program in Texas measures the fitness of state troopers by their waist circumference.

The Texas Department of Public Safety recently launched a program in which men whose waist circumference exceeds 40 inches and women whose waist circumference exceeds 35 inches undergo a weight loss plan and failure to achieving desired results could mean loss of bonuses, overtime, or even dismissal.

Don’t expect a similar plan to be unveiled in Wyoming. Law enforcement officials told the Cowboy State Daily that his body size is not the correct standard for measuring physical fitness.

Where they agree with Texas is on the importance of good physical condition. But officials say there are better ways to do this.

Size is not a good approach

Sweetwater County Sheriff John Grossnickle, once an NCAA track athlete, dismisses the blanket approach.

“Look at a football team,” he said. “Your offensive linemen are in great shape, but they look completely different from a cornerback or a wide receiver.”

“So just size is not a good approach,” he said. “There are other ways to tell if a person is physically fit.”

Byron Oedekoven, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, agreed, saying waist circumference is a poor measure of whether or not officers can do their job.

“I can show you some big boys running in a circle around a whole bunch of high school athletes. They’re definitely not out of shape with their 40-inch size,” Oedekoven said.

Grossnickle and Oedekoven said officers know it’s in their best interest to stay fit because of the challenges of the job – whether it’s having a physical altercation, breaking a bone or even getting to shoot on.

People recover faster if they are physically fit.

“Your body is going to be in shock when any of these things happen, so you’ll benefit from being in the best shape you’re in,” Grossnickle said.

Complete well-being

That’s where mental fitness comes in, Laramie County Sheriff Danny Glick said.

The whole picture is what’s important, he said. That’s why his office promotes a combination of physical and mental fitness.

“We’re asking more and more of our agents,” Glick said. “With everything going on in the world at the moment, we have to make sure we are mentally fit as well.”

Some call it complete wellness. Physical, mental and even financial well-being is important, Grossnickle said. But he went one step further.

“We’re going to add a dietician too,” he said. “Because we know how important it is to keep the body healthy for work, because it’s so difficult.”

More difficult work

And the work got harder, many think.

Oedekoven said people might be more willing to fight arrests than in the past and to that end, being in better shape – overall – is better for the officer and better for the public they are. swore to protect.

“People are more willing to stab you, shoot you, run you over, and that was unheard of years ago for the most part,” he said. “I think officers are very aware that their fitness has a significant impact on their ability to survive and do the job.”

Trouble in Wyoming?

Former Cheyenne Police Chief Brian Kozak said law enforcement officers are in better shape now than they were 30 years ago because staying in shape is so much a part of the culture.

At the Cheyenne Police Department, he said, this culture is so important that officers are paid to train.

“We allowed in-service training, sparring training for one hour per shift,” Kozak said. “It’s a great incentive.”

He said there are annual tests and a recognition program for those who have improved the most from year to year. It’s a carrot rather than a stick approach, he said.

“It’s just positive reinforcement,” he said. “And that makes the difference.”

As for the stigma of cops in donut shops? It fell through the cracks, he said.

“I don’t think you’ll see that many,” Kozak said. “We don’t like the stereotype. We’ll laugh about it. We’re going to make fun of it. But you don’t see it much anymore.

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