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Ogden mayor, staff to discuss fitness of police

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Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey plans to meet with his staff next week to decide on the next course of action in the debate over a police fitness policy.

The Ogden Police Benefit Association submitted a written response Tuesday officially rejecting the mayor's proposal, which among other things allowed for officers who failed the test to be reassigned to nonsworn positions instead of being fired.

In his letter to the mayor, police association president Chad Ledford suggested that the policy could cost taxpayers money and force the department to lose several highly qualified officers.

"If you are motivated by a desire to improve public safety, be aware this policy is not the way to do it," the letter stated. The letter went on to point out that since 2000 the ratio of officers to citizens has held steady, while per-capita violent crime has dropped 6.5 percent. Arrests have increased 36 percent for adults and 21 percent for juveniles during that same time.

"Whereas these encouraging statistics are not the result of a proportionately larger force, they must be the consequence of a police department endowed with high morale and access to an ever-increasing reserve of experience and institutional knowledge — all certain to be greatly damaged by the implementation of your proposed PT policy."

Godfrey read the letter after receiving it Tuesday afternoon but has not had a chance to discuss its contents with his staff.

"There has to be one standard," Godfrey said. "I hope they can certainly understand that you can't have two standards. You can't have one for the old guys and one for the new guys. As long as we can find a way to make that happen there would be room for negotiations."

In his letter, Ledford also leaves open the possibility for further talks based on both sides' desire for a physical fitness standard among officers. However, the letter also states that the association "will not change its position concerning your PT policy and the amendments you've proposed to it."

The policy would require officers to run 1 1/2 miles in 15:54, bench press at least 75 percent of their body weight one time, complete 25 push-ups, finish 35 sit-ups in one minute and make a vertical leap of at least 16 inches. About 20 of the department's 132 officers still have not passed the test.

E-mail: djensen@desnews.com