Police chiefs from across New Hampshire came together last week to convince lawmakers to drop the required fitness test for police amid statewide staffing shortages.
The chiefs gathered to tell the state’s public safety committee that the fitness test is making it difficult for departments to hire and retain officers.
The end result is a bill that will be voted on that would eliminate the physical fitness test for New Hampshire police officers.
A recent story from Police1.com detailed the reasoning and the meeting between law enforcement leadership and Granite State lawmakers.
Below is an excerpt from the Police1.com story.
“I would rather have a large, strong officer who just can’t do 20 sit-ups with me as opposed to no officer at all,” Hinsdale (NH) Police Chief Charles Rataj said. “Or I would rather have a detective lieutenant who’s outstanding at investigating sex offenses and who is in her mid to late 40s and just can’t run a mile and a half without hurting her hips.”
The fitness test is currently required by the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council. Officers must complete sit-ups, push-ups, and a 1.5-mile run in a limited time. The completion time varies by gender and age. The test standards, according to the report, are higher for state troopers. Officers must pass the fitness test in order to become certified. They are also required to repeat the test every three years to remain certified.
The bill, House Bill 113, divided the state’s police chiefs. According to the report, 62% supported eliminating the fitness test, 29% opposed the idea and 9% were unsure.
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“The police academy’s position is that we really want to encourage and build out a program that’s going to help officers stay well and be resilient across their entire career,” John Scippa, director of New Hampshire Police Standard and Training Council, said. “Part of that resiliency is based on their level of fitness. It’s been demonstrated time and time again how important it is for those officers to have a level of fitness that will help them get through their challenging careers.”
Scippa said the council is open to moving to a different kind of test that would “more accurately measure officers’ ability to do their job.”
To read the full story from Police1.com, click here.