CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Training Academy implements Physical Ability Testing
Hussien Jabai, MS, CSCS, TSAC-F, CPT


In an effort to assist the officer resilience initiative within the tactical community, a collaboration between Jabai Performance, Texas A&M University-Commerce, and CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy (CAPCOG RLEA) was formed to emphasize key elements of injury mitigation.

The initial ambitions propelled CAPCOG into addressing their current assessment process of the program and how they pursue professional development education for personnel providing physical fitness oversight.

The Texas A&M University-Commerce ROARHP Lab Tactical Research Team organized and administered a fitness assessment battery to BPOC (Basic Peace Officer Course) classes to accomplish the following:

  1. Build a general profile of law enforcement cadets in the region;
  2. Provide a framework for measuring the efficacy of CAPCOG’s strength and conditioning program (or justifying the reason for the inclusion of the program); and
  3. Indicate areas of concern for cadets. These tests included movement analysis, anthropometrics, performance indicators through field tests, and job-simulation testing.

Physical Ability Testing
The physical ability test was:

  • Constructed by analyzing movements, tasks, and demands associated with law enforcement.
  • Strategically designed to replicate energy systems and fitness components deemed necessary during critical calls.
  • Constructed in a manner to address OSHA regulations and recommendations.
  • Implemented in a way to assess cadets at a “cadet level” versus complexity and skill
  • Intended to facilitate the self-evaluation process that causes the participant to honestly recognize their capabilities.
  • Generated to interact with the cadet and verbalize what performance measures we can establish, individually and as a team, to help them reach past what their original preconceived abilities were.

Through the experiences of the instructors and administration, the impact of the physical ability test (PAT) compared to a standard physical evaluation is immensely beneficial. When interacting with law enforcement cadets, the easiest fact to identify and at the same time overlook is that most people in the profession are Type-A personalities who feel that they can take charge and accomplish any task. This mindset often translates to others as the perception of invincibility. This characteristic can be highlighted in officers who take unnecessary risks, such as not wearing body armor when they should. The test is a well-thought-out program that completes the same core inquiry as a physical evaluation but relates the task and movements performed to a work-related, almost scenario-based assessment. To elaborate, a physical evaluation can identify a person’s ability to bend by having the participant touch their toes from a standing or seated position (such as the “sit-and-reach”). However, bending under hurdles while explaining to the participant that the PAT is assessing their ability to quickly seek cover in turn makes the movement relatable. Likewise, asking a participant to lift weights from various positions can be performed with gym equipment.

Taking the time to set out a life-size mannequin, then explaining the goal of moving an injured person to safety changes the thought process to align with the win mentality associated with Type-A personalities. After the test is completed, while the participant is trying to catch their breath; the most common response is a verbalized reflection of their performance vs. their preconceived abilities. This leaves the participant with a relatable assessment, causing them to self-evaluate.

Pushing the cadet further and building confidence in their ability is extremely important. As cadets move into their careers, they will often perform tasks alone. At the end of the discussion, the straight truth is, one day these officers will have to be prepared to take calculated risks, at times with their own lives, to serve and protect our communities.

University Integration
Universities research teams have members trained in research techniques, data analysis, and dissemination of those results, thereby multiplying the resources of the law enforcement agency. For agencies to grow and improve their process, testing and data are integral to their success. The testing process allows for data-driven decisions to be made regarding programming, curriculum, and instructor effectiveness.

With research collaborations, academy instructors receive aggregate data, but never individual data regarding cadets. The cadets will receive individual performance reports that indicate areas of both strength and challenges. The reports throughout the academy will additionally show how the cadet is progressing or regressing in all areas of interest. Cadets can then act on those areas if they choose.

» ALSO SEE: Functional tactical training adds muscular strength and endurance

Testing performed by Texas A&M University-Commerce originated from the collaboration of Hussien Jabai, tactical strength and conditioning subject matter expert, and Dr. Michael Oldham, ROARHP Lab lead tactical research, to facilitate, regulate, and validate a protocol that had applicable properties to law enforcement job tasks.

Additionally, discussions with Sergio Flores, Chief Instructor of CAPCOG RLEA, assessed and communicated applications of the testing battery to the in-field experience of operators.