Minneapolis PD Trials Rowing-Based Fitness Test

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The Minneapolis Police Department is taking steps to implement a new physical conditioning test for new recruits.

The department’s current assessment is based on the Cooper standard and involves a timed mile and a half run, a sit-up and push-up requirement, and a vertical jump of at least 13 inches. The proposed assessment would center on a 2,000-meter minimum on a rowing machine, which is suggested to be more indicative of an officer’s capacity for street work.

The Minneapolis PD is just one of many US police departments that are reevaluating their current stance on fitness, with programs in development that include wellness components such as yoga and cardio classes, as well as strategies for dealing with diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions.

In a budget report, officials asserted that “The decline of mental and physical health among law enforcement has significant consequences: increase of on-duty illness and injury, increased liability and workers’ compensation costs, and loss of respect and trust within the Community.”

Minneapolis’ rowing-based assessment was developed by the Texas Department of Public Safety and would require officers to complete the 2,000 meters on a Concept 2 Rower, then submit to scoring that accounts for age, sex and weight. Several of the machines have already been added to gyms inside the city’s five precincts.

The rowing assessment is believed to give a more accurate view of an officer’s aerobic capacity and the body’s ability to convert oxygen to energy. Officials are hoping to increase their understanding of the changing physical demands of the job through a department-wide work habits survey.

Survey results are expected within the year, at which time changes to assessment protocols will be implemented without delay. Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis has set aside $150,000 in the city’s 2019 budget to facilitate wellness program research, equipment and training.

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