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Cops' test truly not so tough

So, did you hear about the physical fitness requirements that are being imposed on Ogden police?

Some of the officers are complaining like a guy who just got handed a speeding ticket. The president of the Ogden Police Benefit Association slammed the fitness test. The police union overwhelmingly rejected it.

One wonders: What are they making the officers do? Swim the Channel? Hike Everest? Wrestle Roseanne?

Not quite. Here are the requirements, straight from Chief Jon Greiner (note: no exceptions made for gender or age):

Run 1 1/2 miles in 15 minutes and 54 seconds or less. Look, the average middle-aged man runs a mile and a half in 16 minutes while laying carpet. Piece of cake (no pun intended).

25 push-ups in a minute. We are talking about an adult here, right?

35 sit-ups in a minute. With the exception of the Fat Man from "Jake and the Fat Man," any cop should be able to do this, no sweat.

16-inch vertical jump. Even Greg Ostertag can jump 16 inches.

Bench press at least 75 percent of body weight.

It's not exactly shooting for the Olympic team, is it? Even Madagascar's Olympic team. "I'm 20 pounds overweight, and I can do it," says Chief Greiner.

Do you know what it takes to test out of ninth-grade P.E. in Jordan School District? The 1 1/2-mile run: 11:15 for boys, 15:00 for girls; sit-ups: 52 for boys, 44 for girls. They could pass the police test in front of Nintendo.

The cops complain that experienced, well-trained officers could lose their jobs over this, including those injured on the job (all true), but ask yourself this: Do you really want a cop who can't run an 11-minute mile or lift 150 pounds chasing a bad guy? What's the point?

Maybe this is to be expected when the police ideal has become Sipowicz on "NYPD Blue"?

Being fit is part of being a police officer, isn't it? A jockey has to be able to ride horses, a carpenter has to be able to pick up a board, and a cop has to be able to run down and subdue bad guys, maybe hop a fence to do it, and push a car off the road (by the way, in lieu of the above test, cops have the option of taking a "task test," in which they push a car, jump a fence, perform a sprint and haul a body out of a car).

The fitness test is just another requirement to keep the job — like passing the shooting range test or taking the 40 hours of annual in-service training. How hard can it be? Of the 127 officers on the force, only about 15 haven't passed the test. By the way, they get three tries to pass the test — over a 90-day period (it might be extended to 210 days), with trainers on call to help them do it.

It won't surprise you to learn that the fitness requirements are the result of a lawsuit, based on the following case: A Washington, D.C., cop who had suffered a shoulder injury in the line of duty was reassigned to warrant service. One day he was serving a warrant when a man resisted arrest. When the cop was unable to subdue the man, he shot him. The courts ruled that the police department failed to provide adequate fitness training — which would have made the shooting unnecessary — and awarded the victim $425,000.

Message sent: Police departments are obligated to keep their officers fit.

"It's hard to look at it and say this is not a good thing for the police," says Ogden Mayor Matthew Godfrey.

A former national-class collegiate distance runner, Godfrey could pass the test falling out of bed. "I've had officers send me e-mails saying this has been a great blessing for them because after failing the test they started working out. One officer said he lost 40 pounds and never felt better."

"It's got a side benefit," says Chief Greiner. "We lost a sergeant to a heart attack, and we had been telling him he needed to lose weight. We'd like our officers to be able to enjoy their retirements."


Doug Robinson's column runs on Tuesdays.

E-mail drob@desnews.com.