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 outcome.
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
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
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.
|Copyright © 2019 Barry M. Baker
"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