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Fitness deadline nears for deputies

Out of shape, aged or injured — it doesn't matter.

By the end of the month, all sworn deputies in the Davis County Sheriff's Office are required to pass a fitness test or lose their job. They've had five years to prepare, but at least 40 deputies are on track to fail the five-part test.

Sheriff Bud Cox says county government should be blamed for termination of officers who fail the test.

"It's not our program," said Cox, who as an elected official doesn't have to take the test. "It was funded by personnel, it was written by personnel and the county passed the policy. It's just not mine."

Last month, Cox met with Davis commissioners to request that the fitness policy be amended to eliminate a clause requiring termination of officers. Commissioners denied the request, saying they wanted to stick with the policy as it was written five years ago.

The policy is age- and gender-neutral.

"You hate to lose anyone, they're all good officers," said Commissioner Dannie McConkie. "But we put policies in place for all employees and we try to live with them and live by them."

McConkie said the sheriff's department played an active role in drafting the policy five years ago. The sheriff's department did not appeal provisions in the policy at that time.

"The county commission had very little to do with the development of this," said McConkie.

Cox denies participation in the drafting process. He didn't appeal provisions because he "thought there would be more who would be able to comply."

Now, several aged officers who work in the Davis County Court Complex may lose their jobs, said Cox. There are others who are overweight and can't meet the requirements. At least one deputy has a job-related injury and might not pass, Cox said. None of those officers was available for comment Wednesday.

While understanding of concerns, other policing agencies say fitness standards are a necessary job requirement for police deputies. Two years ago, Ogden city implemented a mandatory fitness test. Only one officer, who was pregnant, couldn't pass the test. That officer later quit the force.

"It's controversial, but I think it's the right thing," said Jon Greiner, Ogden City Police Chief. "If the standard for the job is fitness, then that should be a part of the curriculum. I think law enforcement has been missing out on that expectation."

County officials say the sheriff's office has had five years to prepare deputies for the test. Officers have been offered assistance, including early retirement options.

"For someone to be a deputy carrying a firearm, representing the county, you want them to be in the best shape they can be," said Commissioner Alan Hansen.

If a Davis officer does not pass the fitness test, he or she will be allowed two more chances to pass over the next six months. If an officer eventually fails, Cox says he can shift him or her to a non-sworn position. None is currently available.

"We'll lose a lot of valuable experience," he said, "but that's the policy and that's what we'll do."

Fitness requirements

— 30 sit-ups in one minute

— 25 push-ups

— 13-inch vertical jump

— Bench press 70 percent of body weight

— Run 1 1/2 mile in 16 minutes