Picayune Police officers to become more fit

Published 4:21 pm Friday, April 27, 2012

Two officers with the Picayune Police Department recently attended training to help officer in the department to become and stay physically fit.

Sgt. Ettienne Mixon and Lt. Daniel Davis spent from April 9 through 11 in LaGrange Ga., learning what they will need to help train the department’s other officers on how to improve their physical fitness.

Officers must take a physical fitness test every year for the department to keep its accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agency, said Chief Bryan Dawsey.

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However, staying fit also has other benefits, he said, both for the officer and for the department. Increasing officer fitness will keep officers healthier and less prone to accidents, helping the department avoid sick days and on the job injuries and the workman’s compensation claims associated with injuries.

Since law enforcement is a stress-related job, Dawsey said working out regularly also provides officers with a way to relieve the stress and to help them feel more energetic.

Davis and Mixon said the training is focused on a mile-and-a-half run, doing push ups, stretching and agility exercises. The exercises are those an officer can do even if not a member of a gym, Mixon said. Not having to go to the gym to stay fit means the officer can spend more time with family, Davis said.

While the fitness training Davis and Mixon offer is not mandatory, the hope is that being fit will catch on at the department. Davis said if a few officers start working harder to stay fit, others may decide to do the same.

Whether they participate in departmental fitness training or not, each officer will have to meet certain fitness standards for the department to keep its accreditation. The standards for the mile-and-half run and the pushups, the exercises included in the test, vary, based on an officer’s sex and age.

Life expectancy of a police officer who has served at least 20 years is below the national average of about 78 years. Davis said such an officer has a life expectancy of only 66 years. About 50 percent of officers nationwide suffer from medical problems associated with a lack of physical fitness, and with smoking, drinking and obesity.

Being fit also will help keep officers safe. Davis said each time an officer deals with an offender, the officer is being sized up to determine if resisting arrest would be successful. If an officer is fit, an offender may be less likely to resist arrest, and possibly harming the officer.

In addition, an officer that is fit is less likely to be physically drained to the point the officer will go into shock from having to chase down or to wrestle an offender into custody, Davis said.

Dawsey said he has a few more training classes to which he plans to send Davis and Mixon so they can teach those skills to the rest of the department’s officers.

“I’ve always been big on physical fitness,” Dawsey said.