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Bad news for local doughnut shop owners.

More and more Utah cops have abandoned beloved, fat-filled "goodie haunts" and are spending off-duty hours sweating in the gym.Fitness has become a 21st century police priority.

"We deal daily with both physical and emotional stress. It takes a toll over a 20- or 30-year career," said Salt Lake County Sheriff's Sgt. Jim Potter. "(Officers) who keep in shape have a better chance to collect the retirement they've worked for."

Once-dusty storage rooms now house free weights and treadmills in several Utah police departments. Mandatory annual phys-icals have become the norm for local law officers, and chiefs are leaning on their people to eat better and eschew cigarettes.

Benefits of a fit body are legion, say police.

The most important? Survival, said Potter. Law officers may find themselves in a spot where they have to physically defend themselves, and a strong heart and frame may keep them alive.

Of almost equal concern are the tedious day-to-day tasks of patrol, detective or administrative work.

"Our jobs combine long stretches of boredom and short periods of extreme excitement. If you're not in shape, your body can't handle the changes," said Potter.

Most agencies offer incentives for staying fit, but few departments force their officers to cut the fat.

Sandy Police Department is one exception. Officers must complete a timed obstacle course each year that includes strenuous, job related-tasks. Participants run through a maze, pull a 120-pound dummy, clear a six-foot barrier, sprint up a flight of stairs and fire their service weapon at a target with both their strong and weak hands.

Minimum finish times are set depending on an officer's age, sex and job description. "If the officers can't meet their time, they'll be put on probation," said Sandy Police spokesman David Lundberg.

Local law enforcement leaders hope the 13-week certification period at the police academy will inspire new officers to adopt a life-long fitness routine. Cadets must pass a series of fitness tests measuring flexibility, muscle strength and aerobic endurance to graduate from the 13-week program at the Peace Officers Standard and Training facility.

"Most of the men can pass the minimum push-up requirements, but sometimes they have to work a little harder to get past the sit-up and running requirements," said one POST official. "We hope they'll walk away in great shape, then stay in shape."

Still, fitness goals are often abandoned because of time-consuming desk work and crime investigations. Many chiefs and sheriffs are countering the load by allowing officers a few on-duty exercise hours each week.

Public perceptions matter, said Lundberg. Folks are quick to judge an officer whose belly hangs below his belt.

"It's OK for an insurance agent to look out of shape, but a police officer isn't given the same luxury," he said.



Fitness requirements: POLICE FORCE

SIT UPS (1 minute)

AGE -20 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+

MALE 44 40 36 31 26 20

FEMALE 34 34 27 22 17 8

PUSH UPS (1 minute)

17-21 22-26 27-31 32-36 37-41 42-46 47-51+

MALE 32 30 28 23 22 18 17

FEMALE 13 11 10 10 8 7 7

1.5 MILE RUN (in minutes)

AGE 20-29 30-39 40-49 50-59 60+

MALE 12:12 12:51 13:53 14:55 16:07

FEMALE 14:55 15:26 16:27 17:24 18:16