Commission adopts fitness standards for law enforcers - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Commission adopts fitness standards for law enforcers

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by Krystal Paco

Guam - Should there be a minimum physical fitness standards for the island's law enforcement officials? The POST Commission seems to think so. Here's the skinny on why hundreds of the island's peace officers could be forced to shape up in coming years.  

"Since the inception of the Peace Officer Standards Training Commission on Guam, I don't believe there's ever been a physical fitness standard so we are calling this the physical fitness qualification test standard or the PFQT standards," explained executive director Dennis Santo Tomas. And according to him, the standards could roll out as soon as the mandate undergoes public hearings and are packaged for the legislature to review. But as Santo Tomas tells KUAM News, he doesn't believe the measure will be met with opposition as many of the island's leaders are already rallying in support, including Guam Police Department chief of police Fred Bordallo.

"It sends a message now. I remember as a small kid looking at a police officer. We would question if we saw someone and the fight against obesity by having a physical fitness standard for not only the Guam Police Department but all law enforcement agencies that are all going to step up to the plate. It's going to save some lives. We've lost several of our officers in the past and former retired officers," he said.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, Santo Tomas says the Commission has decided on fitness standards that many may already recognize. "What we have done to facilitate this whole process is we have decided as a commission as a whole to adopt the Air Force's standards," he confirmed.

According to the US Air Force website service members undergo a three event physical performance test such as completing a 1.5-mile timed run, and an evaluation of how many pushups and situps are completed within one minute.  Once the post fitness standards are reviewed by the legislature, they would roll out as a three-year package. Year One would encompass educational outreach and ask that peace officers check their doctors for medical limitations; in Year Two agencies and departments would begin diagnostic testing, and by Year Three, weigh in.  

He said, "By the third year, that's when the testing will in fact count. And everyone will be tested and of course if they do have some medical challenges or medical limitations, it would have to be documented by a certified medical doctor on Guam."

But what are consequences for failing to measure up to the Air Force standards? Santo Tomas says administrative discharges or reassignment to non peace officer-type jobs should a peace officer receive four unsatisfactory failures in a 24-month period. "We feel its pretty straight forward. We're giving them enough time. A three-year period to get in shape, to take care of things with their doctors," he said.

Overall, he continues to push for the standards, which he believes are in the best interest of the entire community, saying, "Our overall goal of implementing such a standard is to improve the overall quality of life for our police officers. Improve their physical, mental, and emotional health their personal preparedness and their preparedness to respond to things that involve law enforcement, improve their morale, improve their teamwork because even as they prepare to take these physical fitness tests, they're going to have to work together as a team."

Public hearings on the standards will be announced at a later date. 
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