Your state of physical fitness will always
be a huge factor in determining how
successfully you deal with any kind of
stress.  More than likely, you'll begin your
police career behind the wheel of a police
car.  The worst thing about a police car is
that it makes a lot of police officers really
lazy.  You'll notice very quickly how cops
develop a penchant for double parking
just to save a few steps.  You'll see some
meet a victim and conduct the entire
interview without giving those front seat
springs a chance to expand.  Right from
the beginning, you should get into the
habit of getting out of your car as much
as possible.  Walking is good for you.  I
took every opportunity to get out of my
car and walk, and it worked well for me.  
Don't forget, as your police career
progresses, you'll be getting older.  With
age comes a natural decline in your level
of endurance, and you need -- no, you
must -- develop some regimen of
physical fitness to enhance and preserve
your level of physical endurance.

Look at it this way.  You're entering a job
where there will be periods of idleness
and boredom interrupted by sudden and
unexpected periods of extreme physical
exertion.  If you spend all the boring time
just sitting, those active times are just
going to become more stressful as time
goes by.  A lot, or even most, young
people beginning a police career don't see
themselves being patrol officers for
twenty years or more.  The truth is
there's not enough promotions or cushy
jobs available to accommodate everyone,
so you need to understand that you may
have to stay in the real work force for
your entire career.

Mind and body.  As long as you develop
the right mental attitudes toward all the
cruel and goofy things you're going to
experience, and you give equal
importance to your continued physical
fitness, you'll do just fine.   
Many police departments haven't done
much to stress the importance of
physical fitness through their ever
decreasing hiring requirements when it
comes to age and weight.  It's not the
fault of police departments since age and
weight have been placed firmly in the
category of discrimination.  However, in
police departments with low attrition
rates, and waiting lists miles long, you
won't see that many older and over
weight rookies.

The PC crowd likes to ignore the real
probabilities that you will face life and
death physical confrontations and
struggles as a police officer.  They're so
deep into their conflict resolution dogma
they're convinced that a police officer
should be able to talk anybody into or
out of anything.  Well...that simply isn't
the way it works.  If you buy into that
nonsense, you'll be experiencing a lot of
stress sooner than later.

If you're young, and your weight is
proportionate to your height, you'll
probably possess the single most
important physical capability for a police
officer... endurance.  While your upper
body physical strength is important, you
should realize that there will always be
someone stronger than you who is
perfectly capable of kicking your butt.  
You'll run into those someones
frequently.  On those occasions when
your best efforts at conflict resolution
fail, your endurance will carry you
through until help arrives.  

The great thing about endurance is that
it doesn't take that much exercise to
develop and maintain.  I spent the first
seven years of my career walking foot
posts.  Since I worked a high crime area,
the walking frequently turned into
running down suspects.  Talk about a
physical fitness program.  My assignment
had me walking and running forty hours
a week every week.

You're going to encounter plenty of
sources of stress during your police
career, but your worst, in the form of
physical consequences, will be periods of
stress which will come during physical
confrontations and struggles.  While
stress associated with the use, or
potential use, of deadly force is obvious,
the frequency of those situations will pale
to the number of times you'll be
confronted with, or engaged in, lesser
physical struggles.

The lesser struggles only remain lesser
as long as you avoid sustaining any
serious physical injury.  You'll encounter
three types of people in physical
confrontations.  First are the ones who
simply want to get away from you.  If
this suspect does attack you
aggressively, the attack will not be
prolonged since he just wants to
incapacitate you long enough to make
good his escape.  In most instances,
however, this suspect will just go round
and round with you; until, the physical
endurance of one of you determines the

While the stress associated with losing to
the first suspect is embarrassment more
than anything else, the second and third
groups pose serious consequences.  The
second group will be comprised of
suspects who would like nothing better
than to hurt you or worse.  The third
group is the "mental cases" who are
unpredictable and dangerous for obvious

When you find yourself in a struggle with
a suspect from the second or third
category, your physical endurance is
more important than you can imagine.  
It's a really bad feeling when you become
so exhausted that you no longer have
the strength to lift your arm much less
throw a punch.  I've been there a few
times, but, in those instances, I was
fortunate that the other guy got to the
same point of exhaustion at the same
time or just ahead of me.
Most young people considering a police
career aren't going to give physical
fitness a lot of thought in the
beginning... and for good reason.  When
you're twenty something, you've still got
that feeling of indestructibility, and the
physical strength and energy that comes
with youth can put the issue of physical
fitness pretty far down on your list of
major concerns.

That's not to say that some of you don't
put physical fitness at the top of your
list.  Some of you will be, or are already,
very keen on diet, exercise, and any
variety of fitness activities that will
enhance and maintain a high level of your
physical fitness for years to come.
"The PC crowd likes to ignore the real
probabilities that you will face life and
death physical confrontations and
struggles as a police officer."
~ Barry M. Baker

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Copyright © 2021  Barry M. Baker  
Becoming a Police Officer
An Insider's Guide to a Career
in Law Enforcement
Recommended reading for
those of you thinking
about becoming a Police
There are Five
Indispensable Truths
for a Successful Police
Page 1
Alabama to California
Page 2
Colorado to Idaho
Page 3
Illinois to Kentucky
Page 4
Louisiana to Massachusetts
Page 5
Michigan to New Jersey
Page 6
New Mexico to North Dakota
Page 7
Ohio to South Dakota
Page 8
Tennessee to Washington-DC
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The good news is...the
odds of you having to  use
deadly force is low.  The
bad news is...you will be
faced with that decision.